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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Fig. 109—Egyptian Calf-Idol

Calf is mentioned in several places, but not requiring a zoological explanation, it may be sufficient to make a few remarks on the worship of calves and other superstitious practices connected with them. The most ancient and remarkable notice in the Scriptures on this head, is that of the golden calf which was cast by Aaron from the earrings of the people, while the Israelites were encamped at the foot of Sinai and Moses was absent on the Mount. The next notice refers to an event which occurred ages after, when Jeroboam, king of Israel, set up two idols in the form of a calf, the one in Dan and the other in Bethel. This almost incomprehensible degradation of human reason was, more particularly in the first instance, no doubt the result of the debasing influences which operated on the minds of the Israelites during their sojourn in Egypt, where, amid the daily practice of the most degrading and revolting religious ceremonies, they were accustomed to see the image of a sacred calf, surrounded by other symbols, carried in solemn pomp at the head of marching armies; such as may be still seen depicted in the processions of Rameses the Great or Sesostris. A similar divinity belonged to the earliest Indian, Greek, and even Scandinavian mythologies; and therefore it may be conceived that the symbol, enduring even to this day, was at that period generally understood by the multitude, and consequently that it was afterwards revived by Jeroboam without popular opposition. With regard to , it may be sufficient to mention that many nations of antiquity had a practice of binding themselves to certain resolutions by the ceremony of cutting a calf or other victim into two halves or sides, laying them on the ground, and passing between the severed parts. This was considered as constituting a peculiarly binding obligation (comp. ; ).





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Calf'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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