The young of the cow, a clean animal much used in sacrifice; hence the expression, "So will we render the calves of our lips," Ho 14:2, meaning, we will offer as sacrifices the prayers and praises of our lips, Heb 13:15. The fatted calf was considered the choicest animal food, Ge 18:7; Am 6:4; Lu 15:23.
In Jer 34:18, "they cut the calf in twain, and passed between the parts thereof," there is an allusion to an ancient mode of ratifying a covenant; the parties thus signifying their willingness to be themselves cut in pieces if unfaithful, Ge 15:9-18.
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. Its worship was attended with degrading obscenities, and was punished by the death of three thousand men.
The golden calves of Jeroboam were erected by him, one at each extreme of his kingdom, that the ten tribes might be prevented from resorting to Jerusalem to worship, and thus coalescing with the men of Judah, 1Ki 12:26-29. Thus the people "forgot God their Savior," and sank into gross idolatry. Jeroboam is scarcely ever mentioned in Scripture without the brand upon him, "who made Israel to sin," 2Ki 17:21. The prophet Hosea frequently alludes to the calf at Bethel, to the folly and guilt of its worshippers, and to the day when both idol and people should be broken in pieces by the Assyrians.
Calves were commonly made use of in sacrifices, and are therefore frequently mentioned in Scripture. The "fatted calf" was regarded as the choicest of animal food; it was frequently also offered as a special sacrifice (1Sa 28:24; Am 6:4; Lu 15:23). The words used in Jer. 34:18, 19, "cut the calf in twain," allude to the custom of dividing a sacrifice into two parts, between which the parties ratifying a covenant passed (Ge 15:9-10,17-18). The sacrifice of the lips, i.e., priase, is called "the calves of our lips" (Ho 14:2, R.V., "as bullocks the offering of our lips." Comp. Heb 13:15; Ps 116:7; Jer 33:11).
The golden calf which Aaron made (Ex 32:4) was probably a copy of the god Moloch rather than of the god Apis, the sacred ox or calf of Egypt. The Jews showed all through their history a tendency toward the Babylonian and Canaanitish idolatry rather than toward that of Egypt.
Ages after this, Jeroboam, king of Israel, set up two idol calves, one at Dan, and the other at Bethel, that he might thus prevent the ten tribes from resorting to Jerusalem for worship (1Ki 12:28). These calves continued to be a snare to the people till the time of their captivity. The calf at Dan was carried away in the reign of Pekah by Tiglath-pileser, and that at Bethel ten years later, in the reign of Hoshea, by Shalmaneser (2Ki 15:29; 17:33). This sin of Jeroboam is almost always mentioned along with his name (2Ki 15:28 etc.).
The young of cattle whether male or female. A calf was offered for a sin-offering for Aaron, and a calf and a lamb for a burnt-offering for the people, at the commencement of Aaron's service. Le 9:2,8.
A calf was kept by the affluent, ready for any special meal, such as was presented tender and good to the angels by Abraham, Ge 18:7; which is also described as 'the fatted calf' in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Lu 15:23. The calf or ox is used typically to represent one of the attributes of God in governmental power, namely, firm endurance. Re 4:7: cf. Eze 1:10.
The calf was held in high esteem by the Jews as food.
1Sa 28:24; Lu 15:23
The molten calf prepared by Aaron for the people to worship,
was probably a wooden figure laminated with gold, a process which is known to have existed in Egypt. [AARON]
Cal'neh, or Cal'no (fortress of Anu), appears in
among the cities of Nimrod. Probably the site is the modern Niffer. In the eighth century B.C. Caneh was taken by one of the Assyrian kings, and never recovered its prosperity.
CALF, ???. The young of the ox kind. There is frequent mention in Scripture of calves, because they were made use of commonly in sacrifices. The "fatted calf," mentioned in several places, as in 1Sa 28:24, and Lu 15:23, was stall fed, with special reference to a particular festival or extraordinary sacrifice. The "calves of the lips," mentioned by Ho 14:2, signify the sacrifices of praise which the captives of Babylon addressed to God, being no longer in a condition to offer sacrifices in his temple. The Septuagint render it the "fruit of the lips;" and their reading is followed by the Syriac, and by the Apostle to the Heb 13:15. 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. Having been conducted through the wilderness by a pillar of cloud and fire, which preceded them in their marches, while Moses was receiving the divine commands that cloud covered the mountain, and they probably imagined that it would no longer be their guide; and, therefore, applied to Aaron to make for them a sacred sign or symbol, as other nations had, which might visibly represent God. With this request, preferred tumultuously, and in a menacing manner, Aaron in a moment of weakness complied. The image thus formed is supposed to have been like the Egyptian deity, Apis, which was an ox, an animal used in agriculture, and so a symbol of the God who presided over their fields, or of the productive power of the Deity. 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. Some understand that he did this by a chemical process, then well known, but now a secret; others, that he beat it into gold leaf, and then separated this into parts so fine, as to be easily potable; others, that he reduced it by filing. The account says, that he took the calf, burned it to powder, and mixed the powder with water; from which it is probable, as several Jewish writers have thought, that the calf was not wholly made of gold, but of wood, covered with a profusion of gold ornaments cast and fashioned for the occasion. For this reason it obtained the epithet golden, as afterward some ornaments of the temple were called, which we know were only overlaid with gold. It would in that case be enough to reduce the wood to powder in the fire, which would also blacken and deface the golden ornaments; but there is no need to suppose they were also reduced to powder. It is plain from Aaron's proclaiming a fast to Jehovah, Ex 32:4, and from the worship of Jeroboam's calves being so expressly distinguished from that of Baal, 2Ki 10:28-31, that both Aaron and Jeroboam meant the calves they formed and set up for worship to be emblems of Jehovah. Nevertheless, the inspired Psalmist speaks of Aaron's calf with the utmost abhorrence, and declares that, by worshipping it, they forgat God their Saviour, (see 1Co 10:9,) who had wrought so many miracles for them, and that for this crime God threatened to destroy them, Ps 106:19-24; Ex 32:10; and St. Stephen calls it plainly ???????, an idol, Ac 7:41. As for Jeroboam, after he had, for political reasons, 1Ki 12:27, &c, made a schism in the Jewish church, and set up two calves in Dan and Bethel, as objects of worship, he is scarcely ever mentioned in Scripture but with a particular stigma set upon him: "Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin."