Exodus 32:4

Hebrew Bible

2 So Aaron said to them, “Break off the gold earrings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people broke off the gold earrings that were on their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 He accepted the gold from them, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molten calf. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it, and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow will be a feast to the Lord.” 6 So they got up early on the next day and offered up burnt offerings and brought peace offerings, and the people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.

1 Kings 12:28

Hebrew Bible

26 Jeroboam then thought to himself: “Now the Davidic dynasty could regain the kingdom. 27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices in the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem, their loyalty could shift to their former master, King Rehoboam of Judah. They might kill me and return to King Rehoboam of Judah.” 28 After the king had consulted with his advisers, he made two golden calves. Then he said to the people, “It is too much trouble for you to go up to Jerusalem. Look, Israel, here are your gods who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” 29 He put one in Bethel and the other in Dan. 30 This caused Israel to sin; the people went to Bethel and Dan to worship the calves.

 Notes and References

"... Aaron's construction of the calf fits well with the use of bovine symbolism and zoomorphic imagery all over the Ancient Near East. The bull, a symbol of strength and potency, was a natural choice to represent significant aspects of divinity. In Ugarit, the god El was re­ferred to as "Bull-El," and there are clear indications that Baal—the ancient god of rain, storms, and fertility who was worshiped all over Syria-Palestine - had bovine aspects. Material remains relevant to the golden calf episode come from the northern Samaritan hills, which yielded an open cult site from Iron Age I ... In other words, the archaeological find from northern Israel fits perfectly with the realistic setting of 1 Kings 12. Let us return to the golden calf episode in the allegorical setting of Exodus 32 ... Exodus 32 allegorizes the events narrated in 1 Kings 12, and Aaron is an allegory of Jeroboam. From the perspective of the Judahite narrator, all of Jer­oboam's cultic actions must be sinful because he is a sinner, and no opportunity to document his sinfulness should be ignored. In 1 Kings 12:31, the accusation against Jeroboam descends into absurdity ..."

Sperling, S. David The Original Torah: The Political Intent of the Bible’s Writers (pp. 107-108) New York University Press, 1998

"... Why do the people say "These are your gods, Israel..." when there is only one calf? Why do they say "... that brought you up from the land of Egypt" when the calf was not made until they were out of Egypt? The answer seems to lie in the account of King Jeroboam in the book of 1 Kings. It states there that when Jeroboam made his two golden calves he declared to his people, "Here are your gods, Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt." The people's words in Exodus are identical to Jeroboam's words in 1 Kings. It would be difficult for us to trace the textual history of these two passages now, but at minimum we can say that the writer of the golden calf account in Exodus seems to have taken the words that were traditionally ascribed to Jeroboam and placed them in the mouths of the people. This made the connection between his golden calf story and the golden calves of the kingdom of Israel crystal clear to his readers ..."

Friedman, Richard Elliott Who Wrote the Bible? (p. 73) Harper San Francisco, 1997

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