Chagall’s Passover Haggadah/Steimatzky Publishers/© 1997 Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris

“This is your God, O Israel, who led you out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4) the Israelites cry as they dance around the golden calf, as painted by Marc Chagall (1887–1985).

Tired of waiting for Moses to descend Mount Sinai, the Israelites encourage Aaron to make them a new deity. God wants to destroy them for worshiping this false god, but Moses—in the guise of a classical prophet—eloquently and successfully begs for mercy: “Let not your anger, O Lord, blaze forth against your people, whom you delivered from the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:11). Moses’ role as prophetic intercessor leads author Schwartz to identify this passage as part of the Elohistic source (E), characterized by its prophetic features.