What is a…

A calf is the young of a cow or ox. 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 (1 Samuel 28:24; Amos 6:4; Luke 15:23).

The words used in Jeremiah 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 (Genesis 15:9-10, 17-18).

The sacrifice of the lips, i.e., praise, is called “the calves of our lips” (Hos. 14:2, R.V., “as bullocks the offering of our lips.” Compare Hebrews 13:15; Psalm 116:7; Jeremiah 33:11).


The ancient Egyptians worshipped the false god Apis (aka Hapis) who took the form of a bull or bull calf. The bull was also widely worshipped as the Lunar Bull and as the creature of the false god El (Baal).

After being rescued from slavery in Egypt, many Israelites (including Moses’ brother Aaron) worshipped a golden calf at the foot of Mount Sinai.

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