The archetypal image of apostasy, in Hebrew tradition. There is much evidence of the worship of cattle in the Near East, certainly from the 6th millennium BCE, in Anatolia, but the classical account of this apostasy in the OT is when Moses was so long absent, engaged in conversation with the Lord on Mount Sinai, that the Israelites down below began to be mutinous. So Aaron ordered a mass collection of golden earrings (Exod. 32: 2), reshaped them in the fire, and ‘there came out this calf’! On his return Moses had the idol melted down again. Cf. 1 Kgs. 12: 28. See also jeroboam 1.