When Prophet Musa (alayhis salam) and his people fled from the Egyptians, theirtrials were far from over. After they had safely crossed the sea, they came upon some people who were worshiping idols. The children of Israel asked Prophet Musa (alayhis salam) to make an idol for them, and he had to remind them of all that Allah had done for them. How could he make another god for them when their Allah was the only true god?
Prophet Musa (alayhis salam) was summoned by Allah to Mount Sinai and he put his brother Harun(alayhis salam) in charge while he was gone. When he arrived at the appointed site, he asked to see Allah. Allah said He could not show Himself directly to Prophet Musa (alayhis salam), but Prophet Musa (alayhis salam) should look towards the mountain, and if the mountain remained in one piece, then Musa would see Allah. When Allah showed His glory on the mountain, it became like dust, and Prophet Musa (alayhis salam) fell down in a faint. When he had recovered his senses, he asked Allah’s forgiveness and declared his unquestioning belief in Allah. Then Allah spoke with Prophet Musa (alayhis salam) and gave him tablets containing His commands and explaining all things. Prophet Musa (alayhis salam) was to carry the tablets back to his people and convey to them the words of Allah. He spent forty days on the mount, communing with his Lord.
Meanwhile, the people of Prophet Musa (alayhis salam) gathered together all their jewelry and gold which they had carried from Egypt. They melted it down and made it into the form of a calf, which they wished to worship. When Prophet Musa (alayhis salam) returned from the mountain with his tablets, he was angry and grieved to see the golden calf. Thinking that Harun (alayhis salam) had approved the actions of the Israelites, an angry Prophet Musa (alayhis salam) grabbed his brother by the hair and dragged Harun towards him. Harun hastily explained that the people had not listened to him and had even threatened to kill him when he opposed their activities. At this Prophet Musa (alayhis salam) prayed to Allah for forgiveness for both himself and his brother. He also prayed for mercy for those who repented of their evil deed in making the golden idol.
The ultimate destination of the people of Israel was the land of Canaan. Continuously they rebelled against Allah, and continuously Allah forgave them. When they were thirsty, Allah commanded Prophet Musa (alayhis salam) to strike a rock and from it sprang twelve springs of water, one for each of the tribes of Israel. When they were hot, Allah provided clouds to cover the sun. When they were hungry, Allah provided manna and salwa. Yet they were never grateful. They even complained about the sameness of the diet and asked for more variety.
At last they came to the land of Canaan. But because the people of Canaan were very strong-looking, the Israelites were afraid to invade their land. There were only two men who were willing to join Prophet Musa (alayhis salam) and Harun (alayhis salam) in an attempt to drive the Canaanites out. They counseled that if the proper gates were attacked, they could easily gain entrance. And once they were inside, they would easily be victorious if only they would put their trust in Allah. But the people of Israel would not budge. They told Prophet Musa (alayhis salam) and Harun (alayhis salam) to go with their Lord and fight, while they, the people, would sit and watch. At this Prophet Musa (alayhis salam) gave up trying to persuade his rebellious people. And Allah decreed that because of their behavior, the children of Israel would be condemned to wander in the wilderness for forty more years, before they would be allowed to enter the land of Canaan.
You can read about the story of Prophet Musa (alayhis salam) and his people in the wilderness in al-Quran 2: 51-61; 5: 23-29; 7: 138-162; and 20: 80-98.