For the longest time this has bothered me. Until quite recently, time was pretty general-inexact, and since there was no way to communicate with people on the go, we didn't get all that surprised when someone was late. And it's only in the recent century or two that pretty much everyone had a watch with them, and each house one accurate clock or more.
Of course today's world is so very timed and controlled. But we all know that even a few years ago, when a family member or friend traveled, like when my son did his after the army trek in South America, days and even weeks could go by without any communications. We had to just pray and trust that all was well, or we'd go insane. All sorts of normal, benign, conditions could cause delays in even the most planned contact schedules, arrivals etc.
That's why I could never understand why/how, during an era when the hour was judged/measured by the length and angle of shadows, and there was absolutely no way to communicate further than a shout or "smoke-signal" away, the recently escaped from slavery Children of Israel, nascent Jewish Nation, could so quickly freak-out, panic, lose faith that their leader Moshe would safely return.
Exodus Chapter 31There had to have been something insidiously planned by trouble-makers to rally the people so quickly against Gd, Moshe and Aaron.
1When the people saw that Moses was late in coming down from the mountain, the people gathered against Aaron, and they said to him: "Come on! Make us gods that will go before us, because this man Moses, who brought us up from the land of Egypt we don't know what has become of him." אוַיַּרְא הָעָם כִּי בשֵׁשׁ משֶׁה לָרֶדֶת מִן הָהָר וַיִּקָּהֵל הָעָם עַל אַהֲרֹן וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֵלָיו קוּם | עֲשֵׂה לָנוּ אֱלֹהִים אֲשֶׁר יֵלְכוּ לְפָנֵינוּ כִּי זֶה | משֶׁה הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱלָנוּ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לֹא יָדַעְנוּ מֶה הָיָה לוֹ:
Considering the massive number of people and how long it would take, if it had truly been spontaneous, for this rebellion to reach a pinnacle of action. Being logical, it would have taken a few days to get organized, collect the gold, melt it down and form a "calf."
And how long would it take for this "golden calf" to harden and be ready for display?
The Biblical account is very dramatic, telling of how Moses in great anger broke the tablets Gd had prepared for the Jewish People when he saw them worshipping the golden figure.
From the text, Moses came down just hours or at most a day after the people had panicked, so how could they have so very quickly produced an idol to worship?
It doesn't make sense to me. Does anyone have some answers?