- Question: [Thursday, 23rd Adar 1, 5782]
Do we know how many individuals died as a result of the sin of the golden calf?
There were definitely more than 3000 people who died as a result of the sin of the golden calf. However, I’m not aware of an exact number being recorded. Seemingly, the number is not in the tens of thousands, as if so, it would’ve showed up in the census count of later that year which still remained with the number 600,000. However, one can counter argue that the census only counted members of the tribes of Israel, and not the converts or Eirev Rav, and hence it is possible that there were many tens of thousands of converts who participated in the sin and died as a result.
Explanation: It is explicitly stated in Scripture that approximately 3000 men were killed by the sword. However, in the concluding verse on the subject, it states that God smote the nation, hence implying that additional individuals were killed. Furthermore, in an earlier verse it states that Moshe had burnt the golden calf and made the Jewish people drink a water mixture of this ash. Indeed, Rashi explains the Jewish people were judged in three different ways, hence implying that there were many more than 3000 people killed. However, the question is how many? To this question I have yet to find any source which states an exact number, and we are hence left with mere speculation.
Sources: See Ki Sisa 32:20, 28, 35, Rashi Ki Sisa 32:20 that there were three types of deaths; Yuma 66