From GeekWithA.45, commenting at this post:
One of my old friends, a scholar of Talmud and Kaballah, once opined that there was a really important reason $DEITY lead Moses and the Israelites around the desert for 40 years between their deliverance from slavery and arrival at the promised land, and it had little to do with petty Divine annoyance on the subject of golden calves. It was, he explained, to give that society time to let the slave generation die off and train the new generation to conditions of self reliance, to become people fit to determine their own fate. I think there’s a lot to that. Slave instincts of servility are pernicious, and difficult for even the hardiest to shake off.
There’s more than a lot to that. There is so much truth in that brief summation that I’m mortified that I’ve never put it into words.