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by Wayne Blank
The Bull Calf
With The Lord having been literally in sight as He led them out of Egypt just weeks before, the still carnal-minded Israelites quickly reverted to worthless things:
"When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain [i.e. Mount Sinai], the people gathered themselves together to Aaron, and said to him, "Up, make us gods, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him."
Israelite calf worship did not end there. After the division of the tribes of Israel into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah (see Jews At War With Israel), King Jeroboam of Israel (see Kings of Israel and Judah) set up two calf idols, one at Dan, and the other at Bethel, in an attempt to keep the people of the northern kingdom of Israel from going to Jerusalem, in the southern kingdom of Judah, to worship. Very strangely, Jeroboam referred to his calf idols in the same words that Aaron used centuries before, as "your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt":
"And Jeroboam said in his heart, "Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David; if this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of The Lord at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah."
The calf idols of Israel lasted as long as the northern kingdom did. As the Assyrians (see Ancient Empires - Assyria) gradually conquered the ten tribes, the idols were looted for their gold. The calf at Dan was carried away in the reign of Pekah by Tiglath-pileser, and the one at Bethel about ten years later, in the reign of Hoshea, by Shalmaneser (2 Kings 15:29, 17:3-6).