God had miraculously brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt at the time when Israel received the Ten Commandments. God was setting them apart as a nation unto himself, a nation from which would one day come the Christ.
These commandments were later written on physical tablets by God. Yet, after receiving these tablets from God, Moses witnessed the same Israelites—who were not long before miraculously rescued by God—worship a golden calf fashioned by their own hands. According to Exodus 32:19, at that moment Moses “threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain.”