Donít get your hopes up, while Exodus 32:1 starts to continue the story, you know it canít last for long.
Letís just recap what happened at the end of Exodus 24 from the perspective of the Israelites in the camps at the base of the mountain. Moses reascends with the 70 elders, including Joshua and Aaron. Shortly there after, Aaron and those elders involved in disputes return to the camps, but the bulk of them remain up the mountain. For the next six days there is a thick cloud covering the mountain which Moses has ascended into. Then, on the seventh day, there is a horrible devouring fire that is seen by everyone around. And then nothing. The elders donít come down, Moses doesnít come down, everything is silent. A total of forty days goes by, and nothing.
Now, when the average person sees someone climbing to the top of an active volcano, and the climber is not seen for 40 days, the person would probably declare the climber deceased. But the Israelites have watched God perform miracle after miracle, and in spite of their fears, God always saved them. Theyíve bore witness to his awesome power and fortitude time and time again. So, if anyone is to have faith in God by now, you know itís the Israelites! They wonít give up on God, their faith is unwavering, theyÖ actually, they turn coat and demand Aaron build them a new god. *sigh*
Actually, wait a minute. Moses was up on the mountain for 40 days? But there are only about 6,500 words of dialog from the 36 day period after God shows up to the point when Moses descends. That translates to about 183 words a day. Is God an ent? Surely we must be missing several chapters of dialogue! Did God say his piece in five minutes and then Moses just twiddled his thumbs for next 35.9 days? Even if you combine all the dialogue from both trips up the mountain, and God spoke at a snailís pace, you could cover everything in a single afternoon. Whatís with the padded number? Are we harkening back to the 40 days of flooding?