Many people, when first reading this story, may think “Why in the world would they want to worship a calf? Or any animal for that matter?”
There is a very logical explanation for this. During this time in human history, many gods were represented by animals. Ra, an Egyptian god, was one of many that were depicted as part cat. Ammut and the solar god Horus (also of Egypt) were portrayed as crocodiles, either in part or whole. So, the Israelites had spent generations in a land that was one of many with “animal” gods, or more accurately, animal statues that represented the gods.
So, why a calf? Several of the most prominent Egyptian cults had a calf or bull as their statue. El, a common god in the Canaanite region, was referred to as the “heavenly bull” and depicted as such. Baal the storm god was another very popular god in the Canaanite region and beyond and was also depicted as a bull.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that the making of the golden calf as right, of course. However, it does explain why, when full of doubt and craving a “god” to “take care of them,” they turned to the familiar shape of a calf.
Jennifer Becker Landsberger
Who am I? Freelance writer (magazines, websites, & copywriting), Catholic, military wife, and Mensan. Double Bachelor's in History & Psychology.
Witnessing by charity and love are above all. Studying the Bible and beyond helps me on this quest. Feel free to join my walk into the Bible.
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~~~Prayer before Writing-
Oh creator of the universe, who has set the stars in the heavens and causes the sun to rise and set, shed the light of your wisdom into the darkness of my mind. Fill my thoughts with a loving knowledge of you, that I may bring you like to others. Just as you can make even babies speak your truth, instruct my tongue and guide my pen to convey the wonderful glory of the Gospel. Make my intellect sharp, my memory clear, and my words eloquent, so that I may faithfully interpret the mysteries what you have revealed.
To my readers & fellow writers,
1. I will pray that God's grace helps illuminate all of our interactions- both those of simple reading and more active conversations.
2. I will communicate with you respectfully and civilly. These are (rightly) issues which we feel passionate about. But even in disagreements, I will respect you fellow "seekers of truth."
3. I will not fall into negative behavior or words, such as insinuations, exaggerations, blames, or personal attacks. I respectfully ask you to do the same.
4. I will pray we will all find the truth and strive to fulfill the two greatest commandments: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31)
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Sites I Recommend
Biblical Evidence for Catholicism by Dave Armstrong