What does Golden Calf mean in the Bible?

Dictionary

Chabad Knowledge Base - Golden Calf
The: the idol made by the Jews when it appeared to them that Moses would not be coming down from Mount Sinai
Holman Bible Dictionary - Golden Calf
An image of a young bull, probably constructed of wood and overlaid with gold, which the Hebrews worshiped in the wilderness and in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
Ancient Near Eastern Background and Biblical References Living bulls were important in the religion of some regions of ancient Egypt, and bull images appear in the art and religious texts of Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Phoenicia, and Syria. The primary references to “golden calf” in the Bible are Exodus 32:1-8 and 1 Kings 12:25-33 . The former passage records that the people summoned Aaron to make an image to go before them. The image was apparently intended to represent Yahweh, the Lord of Israel. The latter reference states that Jeroboam I constructed at Bethel and Dan two golden bulls, which were probably meant to represent the pedestals of God's throne. Interestingly, these passages are closely related to each other because they use the same terminology in the dedication of these images (Exodus 32:4 ; 1 Kings 12:28 ), and they both explore the sin of idolatry at crucial junctures in Israel's history. All other references to this subject in the Bible (Deuteronomy 9:16 ,Deuteronomy 9:16,9:21 ; 2 Kings 10:29 ; 2 Kings 17:16 ; 2 Chronicles 11:15 ; 2 Chronicles 13:8 ; Nehemiah 9:18 ; Psalm 106:19 ; Acts 7:41 ) have in view either the incident involving Aaron or the one involving Jeroboam I.
Theological Significance These accounts demonstrate Israel's strong conviction that God cannot be lowered to the level of pictorial representation. God, as sovereign Lord, allows no physical image of Himself, and any human effort to create such an image invites His judgment. See Aaron ; Bethel ; Bull ; Dan ; Exodus ; Jeroboam I; Moses ; Yahweh.
Robert William Prince, III
1910 New Catholic Dictionary - Golden Calf
Image of God made by Aaron at the foot of Mount Sinai, pursuant to the request of the Hebrews wearied by the protracted stay of Moses on the mountain (Exodus 32). It consisted probably of a wooden frame with plates of gold obtained from melting the jewelry worn by the Hebrews. Judging from the Hebrew word employed, its appearance was not so much that of a calf as of a young bull, connoting strength and vigor and symbolizing the principle of fertility. In the minds of the people the golden calf was not to be the formal object of their worship, but a representation of Yahweh, as is clear from Aaron's attributing to God the deliverance from Egypt, and proclaiming a feast to Yahweh. Any divine representation, however, contravened the prohibition to make any kind of images of God (Exodus 20); and particularly was the bovine figure objectionable, as the worship of that symbol was associated traditionally with scenes of obscenity. That is exactly what happened in this instance. After the secession of the ten northern tribes, Jeroboam, with a view to turn his new subjects away from the temple of Jerusalem, and at the same time to cater to their naturalistic propensities, set up golden calves at Dan and Bethel (3Kings 12). These apparently must be looked upon, like Aaron's golden calf, as representations of Yahweh. The worship carried out at their sanctuaries was likewise strongly tainted with immoral practises.

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Exodus - the Book of: The second of the Five Books of Moses, relates the story of the Israelites' slavery in Egypt, their Exodus, the Giving of the Torah, the sin of the Golden Calf, and the construction of the Tabernacle
Shemot - �names�); the Book of Exodus ...
Shemot: The second of the Five Books of Moses, relates the story of the Israelites' slavery in Egypt, their Exodus, the Giving of the Torah, the sin of the Golden Calf, and the construction of the Tabernacle
Bethaven - ) In Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:1; Hosea 10:5 Bethel, "house of God," is called Bethaven, "house of vanity", because of Jeroboam's Golden Calf
Horeb - Near here also the Golden Calf was set up
Exodus - The most convenient division is the following: ...
events preceding the going out of Egypt (1-12)
the going out of Egypt and the journey to Mount Sinai (13-18)
the promulgation of the first instalments of the Mosaic Law (19-31)
the apostasy of the Jews (the Golden Calf), reconciliation, and renewal of the Covenant (32-34)
construction of the Tabernacle (35-40)
Calf - Golden Calf, which it is said Aaron made, Exodus 32:1-4, It is remarkable, that though it is expressly said, that this was but one idol, yet the children of Israel addressed it as in the plural, and said, "These are thy gods, O Israel!" Did the Israelites, in direct defiance of the divine law, make this idol to resemble, according to their gross conceptions, the true God? Wherefore, do they otherwise call it gods? Certainly, there is somewhat mysterious in it
Calf, Golden - In the minds of the people the Golden Calf was not to be the formal object of their worship, but a representation of Yahweh, as is clear from Aaron's attributing to God the deliverance from Egypt, and proclaiming a feast to Yahweh. These apparently must be looked upon, like Aaron's Golden Calf, as representations of Yahweh
Golden Calf - In the minds of the people the Golden Calf was not to be the formal object of their worship, but a representation of Yahweh, as is clear from Aaron's attributing to God the deliverance from Egypt, and proclaiming a feast to Yahweh. These apparently must be looked upon, like Aaron's Golden Calf, as representations of Yahweh
Aaron - He caused the casting of the Golden Calf which the Israelites worshiped in the wilderness (Exodus 32), but at the prayer of Moses he was spared the fate of the three thousand worshipers (Deuteronomy 9)
Calf - For other religious uses of the calf, see Golden Calf
Bullock - It is the same word used of the "molten calf" (Exodus 32:4,8 ) and "the Golden Calf" (1 Kings 12:28 )
Amaziah - An idolatrous priest of the Golden Calf at Bethel, in the reign of Jeroboam II
Cast Down - 15:25); Aaron claimed he “threw” gold into the fire and a Golden Calf walked out ( Remphan - Grotius thinks it to have been some deity, as Rimmon; and Capellus and Hammond take this Remphan to be a king of Egypt, deified by his subjects; a late writer is of opinion, that God here refers to the idolatries to which in succeeding ages the Jews were gradually given up, after having begun to revolt in the wilderness by the sin of the Golden Calf
Beelzebul - The Jews, in ridicule, changed Baalzebub, the Ekronite "god of flies", into Beelzebul, "god of dung" (which however is zebel , as they changed Beth-el ("house of God") into Beth-aven ("house of vanity"), when the Golden Calf was set up there
Graven Image - But there were also MOLTEN IMAGES, as the Golden Calf, which was first cast and then shaped more exactly with the graving tool
Calves, Golden - As Moses was on Mount Sinai, Aaron formed a Golden Calf to use in a “feast to Yahweh” (Exodus 32:4-5 )
Amaziah - A priest of the Golden Calf at Bethel, who denounced the prophet Amos to Jeroboam, and sought to banish him into Judah for his fidelity, Amos 7:10-17
Contrite - This meaning appears in the crushing of the Golden Calf ( Exodus 32:20 ) or the crushing of grain during threshing (Isaiah 28:28 )
Levi - This appears to have come upon Simeon; but the holy zeal of the Levites on occasion of the Golden Calf procured them a remarkable blessing and distinction
Amazi'ah - (1 Chronicles 6:45 ) ...
Priest of the Golden Calf at Bethel who endeavored to drive the prophet Amos from Israel into Judah
Calf - ...
THE Golden Calf worshipped by the Jews at mount Sinai, while Moses was absent in the mount, was cast by Aaron from the earrings of the people
Calf - The Golden Calf which Aaron made (Exodus 32:4 ) was probably a copy of the god Moloch rather than of the god Apis, the sacred ox or calf of Egypt
Golden Calf - The primary references to “golden calf” in the Bible are Exodus 32:1-8 and 1 Kings 12:25-33
Nakedness - So, after worshipping the Golden Calf, the Israelites found themselves naked in the midst of their enemies
Dizahab - ’ The Targums see in it an allusion to the Golden Calf
Calf - The "golden calf" was an idol set up and worshipped by the Israelites at the foot of mount Sinai in their passage through the wilderness to the land of Canaan. The means by which Moses reduced the Golden Calf to powder, so that when mixed with water he made the people drink it, in contempt, has puzzled commentators
Jannes And Jambres - Later Jewish fancy ran wild on these names; according to some they were Balaam’s sons; according to others they were drowned in the Red Sea; or they were put to death, either for inciting Aaron to make the Golden Calf or at a later stage of the history
Joash or Jehoash - The worship of the Golden Calf, however, still continued during his reign, 2 Kings 13:9-25 14:1-8 2 Chronicles 25:1-28
Tabernacle - First, after the sin of the Golden Calf at Mount Sinai the “provisional” tabernacle was established outside the camp and called the “tent of meeting” (Exodus 33:7 ). After the Golden Calf was made,...
God refused any longer to acknowledge Israel as His people and to dwell in their midst
Bethel - It was included in Israel after the kingdom was divided, and it became one of the seats of the worship of the Golden Calf (1 Kings 12:28-33 ; 13:1 )
Book, Book of Life - "...
An anguished interchange between a wrathful Yahweh and a pleading Moses after the discovery of the Golden Calf illustrates the Old Testament understanding of the Book of Life
Cocceians - Cocceius also taught, that the covenant made between God and the Jews was of the same nature as the new covenant by Jesus Christ; that the law was promulgated by Moses, not merely as a rule of obedience, but also as a representation of the covenant of grace; that when the Jews had provoked the Deity by their various transgressions, particularly by the worship of the Golden Calf, the severe yoke of the ceremonial law was added as a punishment; that this yoke, which was painful in itself, became doubly so on account of its typical signification; since it admonished the Israelites from day to day of the imperfection of their state, filled them with anxiety, and was a perpetual proof that they had merited the righteous judgment of God, and could not expect, before the coming of the Messiah, the entire remission of their iniquities; that indeed good men, under the Mosaic dispensation, were, after death, made partakers of glory; but that, nevertheless, during the whole course of their lives they were far removed from that assurance of salvation, which rejoices the believer under the dispensation of the Gospel; and that their anxiety flowed from this consideration, that their sins, though they remained unpunished, were not yet pardoned; because Christ had not as yet offered himself up to make an atonement for them
Aaron - Yet he fell sometimes into grievous sins: he made the Golden Calf at Sinai, Exodus 32:1-22 ; he joined Miriam in sedition against Moses, Numbers 12:1-16 ; and with Moses disobeyed God at Kadesh, Numbers 20:8-12
Cocceians - In consequence of this general principle, he maintained that the ten commandments were promulgated by Moses, not as a rule of obedience, but as a representation of the covenant of grace...
that when the Jews had provoked the Deity by their various transgressions, particularly by the worship of the Golden Calf, the severe and servile yoke of the ceremonial law was added to the decalogue, as a punishment inflicted on them by the Supreme Being in his righteous displeasure...
that this yoke, which was painful in itself, became doubly so on account of its typical signification; since it admonished the Israelites from day to day of the imperfection and uncertainty of their state, filled them with anxiety, and was a perpetual proof that they had merited the righteous displeasure of God, and could not expect before the coming of the Messiah the entire remission of their iniquities...
that indeed good men, even under the Mosaic dispensation, were immediately after death made partakers of everlasting glory; but that they were nevertheless, during the whole course of their lives, far removed from that firm hope and assurance of salvation, which rejoices the faithful under the dispensation of the Gospel...
and that their anxiety flowed naturally from this consideration, that their sins, though they remained unpunished were not pardoned; because Christ had not as yet offered himself up a sacrifice to the Father, to make an entire atonement for them
Hoshea (2) - " Tiglath Pileser had carried off the Golden Calf from Dan, and Shahnaneser from Bethel, in his first invasion (2 Kings 15:29; Hosea 10:14)
Calf, Golden - ...
The fact that the Golden Calf was burnt by Moses before it was ground to powder has given rise to a great deal of discussion
Idol - The first rebellion of the Hebrews centered around the Golden Calf made under Aaron's leadership in the wilderness (Exodus 32:1 )
Aaron - The image he made was a Golden Calf, after the form of the Egyptian Apis or Mnevis
Levite - But it was not till that terrible scene in connection with the sin of the Golden Calf that the tribe of Levi stood apart and began to occupy a distinct position (Exodus 32 )
Aaron - ...
Aaron, alas, had not the stability of his brother,* but at the request of the people, and apparently without a protest, made for them the Golden Calf: he also built an altar before it, and made proclamation of a feast to Jehovah on the morrow
Aaron - What would the people like me to say to them on that subject? Will they crowd to hear it? How will they take it? And what will be said about what I have said after I have said it and cannot unsay it? And, in my heart of hearts, can I let them go? Shall I not tune my pulpit just a touch or, two, so as to attract this man, and so as to keep that other man from going away? Moses had his own temptations and snares that even he did not always escape and overcome; but it was the good speaker's temptation, it was the popular preacher's temptation, that led Aaron into the terrible trespass of the Golden Calf. And while Aaron was Jesus Christ in type and by imputation, at the same time, and to give the uttermost reality and the uttermost intensity to that, he was himself Aaron all the time, Aaron of the Golden Calf and of many other untold transgressions besides. And you may be quite sure that Aaron never slew a sacrifice for sin that he did not lay the Golden Calf, and the nakedness, and the dancing, and the shame, and all the never-to-be-forgotten sin upon its bleeding head. Moses in his anger had ground the Golden Calf to ashes, and had sprinkled the ashes on the waters of the brook that ran down out of the Mount of God, till all the people drank of the sin laden water. And to this day the children of Israel have a saying to this effect,-that when any terrible judgment of God, or any great remorse, or any great repentance comes upon them there is always an ounce of the ashes of the Golden Calf in it. And, though they did not know it, and would not have believed it, the penitents in Israel got far more good out of their high priest's trespass in the matter of the Golden Calf, than ever they got out of his broidered garments, and his silver bells, and his fair mitre upon bis head
Calf Worship - But Aaron's Golden Calf he expressly calls, "thy Elohim which brought thee up out of Egypt"; and the feast to it "a feast to Jehovah" (Exodus 32:4-8; Exodus 32:17-19)
Favor - Moses pleaded that God would spare Israel in spite of their sinful worship of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32:11 )
Blasphemy - Specifically mentioned were the instances of the Golden Calf (Nehemiah 9:18 ) and the harsh treatment of the prophets (Nehemiah 9:26 )
Jannes And Jambres - They were sons of Balaam, and accompanied him on his journey to Balak; they perished in the Red Sea; they were among the ‘mixed multitude’; they were killed in the matter of the Golden Calf; they flew up into the air to escape the sword of Phinehas, but were brought down by the power of the Ineffable Name and slain
Idolatry - When the Golden Calf was made Aaron built an altar before it, and said, "To-morrow is a feast to Jehovah;" but the people said, "These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt
Blasphemy - Similarly, the prayer of the Levites in Nehemiah 9 calls "awful blasphemies" all that Israelites did when they made the Golden Calf (9:18)
Aaron - He gave in to the demands of the people, collecting the necessary materials and supervising the making of a Golden Calf
Levites - The tribe of Levi was appointed because it was the only tribe that stood with Moses against the people who worshiped the Golden Calf (Exodus 32:25-29 ; Deuteronomy 10:6-9 )
Levi - ...
Moses and Aaron's faithfulness, the Levites' drawing their swords against their Israelite brethren as God's avengers of the idolatry of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32:26-29), "slaying every man his brother
Camp - When the camp itself had become defiled by the Golden Calf, Moses "took the tabernacle and pitched it without the camp
Tabernacle - Then, after a three-chapter interlude dealing with the Golden Calf episode and its aftermath, chapter 35 resumes the story of the tabernacle, reporting how the complex was built. ...
The incident of the Golden Calf, which is reported between the instructions for the tabernacle and its building, highlights both the significance and function of the tabernacle. The Golden Calf could hardly compare to the tabernacle
Calf, Golden - The incident of ‘the Golden Calf, is related in detail in Exodus 32:1-35 (cf
Exodus, Book of - While Moses was in the mount the people, under the plea of not knowing what had become of Moses, requested Aaron to make them 'gods to go before' them, and the Golden Calf was made
Dan (1) - ...
This probably suggested the city Dan to Jeroboam as one of the two seats of the Golden Calf worship (1 Kings 12:29)
Intercession - After the people built the Golden Calf, Moses prayed for God's mercy, calling on God to remember His reputation among the nations and His promises to the patriarchs
Responsibility - Aaron would not own up to the fact that he had formed the Golden Calf (1618385730_6 )
Dan - As an alternative to worship in Jerusalem, Dan and Bethel were fortified as border fortress/sanctuaries (1 Kings 12:29 ) with temples containing Golden Calf representations of Yahweh
Aaron - While Moses remained on the mountain with God, Aaron returned unto the people; and yielding through fear, or ignorance, or instability of character, to their clamour, made unto them a Golden Calf, and set it up as an object of worship (Exodus 32:4 ; Psalm 106:19 )
Aaron - " Aaron sinfully yielded to the importunities of the people; and having ordered them to bring the pendants and the earrings of their wives and children, he melted them down, and then made a Golden Calf, probably in imitation of the Egyptian Apis, an ox or calf dedicated to Osiris. The calf was called a Golden Calf, as being highly ornamented with gold
Ark of the Covenant - After the sin of the Golden Calf and the breaking of the original decalogue tablets, Moses made a plain box of acacia wood as a container to receive the new tables of the law
Levite - Subsequent to the induction of Aaron and his sons into the priesthood, the entire tribe of Levi was "set apart" following the Golden Calf incident (Exodus 32:26-29 )
Gods - If, said they, their fathers had not sinned in the matter of the Golden Calf, they would have been as the angels; they would neither have begotten children nor been subject to death
Music, Instruments, Dancing - The account of—Moses' return from the mountain to be confronted by the singing and dancing of the people around the Golden Calf (Exodus 32:17-19 ) symbolized a condition of broken covenant
Typology - Christians are not to desire evil things, as in the Golden Calf incident, and as at Baal-Peor (1 Corinthians 10:7-8 )
God, Name of - This incident follows the account of Israel's worshiping the Golden Calf, a moment in her history that prompted deep concern that a holy God would not continue with this nation but would erupt in judgment against it
Hebrews - We know with what facility they adopted the adoration of the Golden Calf, when they had recently been eyewitnesses of such divine wonders
Idol, Idolatry - Israel, however, quickly succumbed to idolatry by worshiping a Golden Calf at Mount Sinai (Exodus 32 )
Nehemiah, Theology of - Therefore he did not forsake Israel because of the Golden Calf episode (Exodus 32 )
Exodus, Book of - Impatient Israel got Aaron to build an object of worship they could see, so he made the Golden Calf
Egypt - ) This explains their readiness to worship the Golden Calf, resembling the Egyptian ox-idol, Apis (Exodus 32). ...
Geometry, mechanics, chemistry (judging from Moses' ability, acquired probably from them, to burn and grind to powder the Golden Calf), astronomy (whereby Moses was able to form a calendar, Acts 7:22), and architecture massive and durable, were among Egypt's sciences
Moses - ...
In the affair of the Golden Calf, ( See CALF ,) the conduct of Moses showed the greatest zeal for God's honour, and a holy indignation against the sin of Aaron and the people. He then took the Golden Calf, and burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and mixed it with water, and made the children of Israel drink of it
Destroy, Destruction - When Golden Calf worship broke the covenant, Israel fell under a sentence of destruction (Jonah 2:5-7 )
Exodus, the - A small height at the entrance of the convent valley is named as the spot from whence Aaron witnessed the feast of the Golden Calf
Tabernacle - ) The sin as to the Golden Calf delayed the execution of the design of the tabernacle
Exodus, Theology of - ...
While Moses and Joshua remain on the mountain to receive the tablets of Words, the people act in rebellion by making a Golden Calf for worship and leadership (32:1)
Leadership - After the Golden Calf incident it was the tribe of Levi who stood out to count themselves on the Lord's side (Exodus 32:26 ), and thereafter they took the place of the firstborn (Numbers 8:14-19 )
Idol - In Exodus 32:4 "Aaron fashioned it with a graying tool (cheret ) after he had made it a Golden Calf
God - This promise of God's presence became a crucial factor during the Mosaic era and was the point of contention in Exodus 33 , when Yahweh responded to the Golden Calf episode by first declaring that his presence would not accompany Israel into Canaan
Barnabas, Epistle of - Paul would say that the physical descendants of Abraham were not cut off from this special relationship until they out themselves off when they refused to believe in Jesus (Romans 11), our author thinks that they were cut off long before this, as long ago as the day of Aaron’s Golden Calf
Jews - Three thousand of them were cut off for worshipping the Golden Calf; and for loathing the manna, they were punished with a month's eating of flesh, till a plague brake out among them; and for their rash belief of the ten wicked spies, and their contempt of the promised land, God had entirely destroyed them, had not Moses's prayers prevented