From the Christian Bible, in the Old Testament, specifically Exodus. Moses led his people out of their time of slavery in Egypt, crossing the Red Sea which swallowed all of Pharaoh's army that was pursuing the Israelites, and following a pillar of smoke by day that turned into a pillar of fire by night.

The Israelites reached the foot of Mount Sinai (also known as Mt. Sin) after a protracted period of wandering in the desert. God called Moses up the mountain to have a little talk. While Moses was at a higher elevation, his people got restless. They started to forget the miracles that brought them out of Egypt and turned to another god to worship, hoping he'd get their butts to the Promised Land a little faster.

The Israelites got together all their gold jewelry and pots and plates, melted it down, and had it cast into the shape of a golden calf, emblem of the god Baal. Next they had a ceremony and dedicated a virgin girl to the statue, then started an orgy (i.e. the original party to end all parties). Moses came staggering down the hill, the Ten Commandments on stone tablets in his arms, and encountered the party in flagrante dilecto.

Much of this story is taken from faint remembrance of my days in Catholic school, spiced with scenes from the Cecil B. DeMille production of the film "The Ten Commandments," starring NRA poster-child Charelton Heston.

I was always curious about the whole golden calf situation. Time and time again it seems the Israelites let God down after being released from Egypt.

So I did some research from a Bible commentator named Richard Elliot Friedman to seek some answers. (My learned father showed me his book).

So in his book of commentating, he explains what the “golden calf” represents. He says that the term calf is misleading. The literal term for the word “egel” is young bull. “The plural ‘gods’ does not appear to refer to the calf.

In the pagan religions of the ancient Near East, people did not worship animals, and they did not worship idols. They worshiped gods who were represented or honored by statues. The gods were sometimes pictured as enthroned on a platform, and the platform was commonly composed of figures of cherubs or of young bulls. Since there is only one young bull here, together with plural ‘gods,’ we must understand the people to be perceiving the bull as a throne platform for gods whom they will worship…” (pp. 280).

I agree with all of what he says except for the part about the platform is for “gods that they will worship.” In our day and age, we try to find things in the world that we see represent God for us. Some people find it in nature, some in writing, and some feel God when they enter their synagogue. When some for example, look at their arc, see God in it.

I believe that the people created an object on top of this golden calf to center their feelings of God. Now to regard the plural “ayleh elohecha”, the Torah sometimes refers to God as “Elohim”. This is a plural word too. So I believe that we are mistranslating this word.

My research came from Richard Elliot Friedman's "Commentary on the Torah"

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