From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [1]

עגל . 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  1 Samuel 28:24 , and  Luke 15:23 , was stall fed, with special reference to a particular festival or extraordinary sacrifice. The "calves of the lips," mentioned by  Hosea 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  Hebrews 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,

 Exodus 32:4 , and from the worship of Jeroboam's calves being so expressly distinguished from that of Baal,  2 Kings 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  1 Corinthians 10:9 ,) who had wrought so many miracles for them, and that for this crime God threatened to destroy them,  Psalms 106:19-24;  Exodus 32:10; and St. Stephen calls it plainly ειδωλον , an idol,   Acts 7:41 . As for Jeroboam, after he had, for political reasons,  1 Kings 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."

People's Dictionary of the Bible [2]

Calf. The young of cattle, much used in sacrifice, often stall-fed, and regarded as choice food.  Genesis 18:7;  1 Samuel 28:24;  Amos 6:4;  Luke 15:23;  Luke 15:27;  Luke 15:30. Some of the Egyptian deities, as Apis and Mnevis, were honored under the symbol of a calf. There were two notable occasions on which calf-like images were set up by the Israelites for worship. The first was when Aaron, at the demand of the people, made of their golden earrings a molten calf, hollow probably, or of gold plating upon wood. After the metal was cast it was fashioned, finished or ornamented, with a graving tool. Moses, when he saw it, burnt and reduced this image to powder, cast it into the water and made the Hebrews drink it.  Exodus 32:1-35. Some centuries later Jeroboam set up golden calves at Dan and Bethel, which thus became and long continued to be centres of unhallowed worship.  1 Kings 12:28-30. Some suppose it was intended to honor Jehovah by these visible symbols, or at least to mix his worship with that of idols. For example, Aaron proclaimed "a feast to the Lord,"  Exodus 32:5; and Jeroboam, we may fairly believe, never hoped to keep his subjects from resorting to Jerusalem, by at once setting up a god in downright opposition to Jehovah. His object was to persuade them that their worship would be as acceptable by means of his symbols as by the ceremonials of the temple. The passing between the divided parts of a calf,  Jeremiah 34:18-19, has reference to an ancient mode of ratifying a covenant. Comp.  Genesis 15:10;  Genesis 15:17. The "calves of our lips,"  Hosea 14:2, leads in the R. V., "So will we render As bullocks, The Offerings Of our lips," that is, we will offer praise, as animals are offered in sacrifice.  Hebrews 13:15. See Lamb.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [3]

 Exodus 32:4 (c) This was worshipped as an idol because it represented food to eat and work to profit thereby. It was worshiped in Egypt as a god, and Israel had been so many years there, that they turned to this false god when their hearts were not right with the true GOD.

 Leviticus 9:2-3 (c) This may be taken as a type of Jesus in His youth and His humility. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. He was a young man, and this calf is a fitting symbol of the young king.

 Psalm 29:6 (c) The type in this case may represent youth, vigor, activity and a carefree life.

 Jeremiah 34:18 (b) This is certainly a type of the death of Christ who passed through the furnace of GOD's wrath, suffered in the darkness, and yet was "the light of life." (This was called a heifer in  Genesis 15:9).

 Ezekiel 1:7 (a) Here we find a type of the Lord as He walked significantly, surely, certainly and with a definite plan and purpose.

 Hosea 8:5 (a) The Samaritans made a calf their god. It could not and did not deliver them from their enemies, but caused GOD's wrath to fall upon them.

 Hosea 14:2 (b) From this we learn that the offering of praise, thanksgiving and worship from their lips would bring joy to the heart of GOD, as though Israel offered a calf on the altar.

 Malachi 4:2 (a) From this we learn that Israel's blessings under the good hand of GOD were that they were fed by the Lord, protected by the Lord, and grew greater, stronger and more useful under GOD's good hand.

 Luke 15:23 (c) This represents the fullness of CHRIST's sufficiency and His ability to supply the needs of the repentant sinner.

 Revelation 4:7 (b) No doubt this is a type of our Lord JESUS who served both GOD and man. See under "OX."

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [4]

‘Calf’ ( Acts 7:41,  Hebrews 9:12;  Hebrews 9:19,  Revelation 4:7) should be rendered ‘ox’ or ‘steer.’ 1. The expiatory virtue of sacrifices of blood formed part of the Semitic belief from earliest times. In  Leviticus 17:11 the reason given is that the life or soul of the animal is in the blood (cf.  Genesis 9:4,  Deuteronomy 12:23), which gives piacular efficacy to the sacrifice (see article‘Sacrifice’ in the Bible Dictionaries). 2. The second of the four living creatures in the Apocalypse had the likeness of an ox, presumably as the symbol of strength. It was certainly for this reason that the bull was chosen as the symbol of Jahweh by Aaron ( Acts 7:41) and Jeroboam (B. Duhm, Theol. der Propheten , Bonn, 1875, p. 47; A. Dillmann, Exodus , Berlin, 1880, p. 337; J. Robertson, Early Religion of Israel , Edinburgh, 1892, pp. 215-220; similarly Kuenen and Vatke). The four living creatures remind us of certain of the signs of the zodiac (bull, angel, lion, eagle), and possibly they have some connexion with that source (so Moffatt and Gunkel), Irenaeus (iii. xi. 8) associate the living creatures with the four evangelists, and holds that the ‘calf,’ signifying the priestly and sacrificial character of Jesus, is the symbol of St. Luke. These traditions continued after his time, but there was considerable variety in the application of the symbols (see Zahn, Forschungen , Erlangen, 1881-1903, ii. 257ff.; Swete, Gospel according to St. Mark 2 , London, 1902, p. xxxvi ff.).

F. W. Worsley.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

The young of the cow, a clean animal much used in sacrifice; hence the expression, "So will we render the calves of our lips,"  Hosea 14:2 , meaning, we will offer as sacrifices the prayers and praises of our lips,  Hebrews 13:15 . The fatted calf was considered the choicest animal food,  Genesis 18:7   Amos 6:4   Luke 15:23 .

In  Jeremiah 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,  Genesis 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,  1 Kings 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,"  2 Kings 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.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [6]

1: Μόσχος (Strong'S #3448 — Noun Masculine — moschos — mos'-khos )

primarily denotes "anything young," whether plants or the offspring of men or animals, the idea being that which is tender and delicate; hence "a calf, young bull, heifer,"  Luke 15:23,27,30;  Hebrews 9:12,19;  Revelation 4:7 .

2: Μοσχοποιέω (Strong'S #3447 — Verb — moschopoieo — mos-khop-oy-eh'-o )

signifies "to make a calf" (moschos, and poieo, "to make"),  Acts 7:41 .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [7]

 1 Samuel 28:24 Amos 6:4 Luke 15:23 Jeremiah 34:18,19 Genesis 15:9,10,17,18 Hosea 14:2 Hebrews 13:15 Psalm 116:7 Jeremiah 33:11

The golden calf which Aaron made ( Exodus 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 ( 1 Kings 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 ( 2 Kings 15:29;  17:33 ). This sin of Jeroboam is almost always mentioned along with his name ( 2 Kings 15:28 etc.).

Webster's Dictionary [8]

(1): (n.) A small island near a larger; as, the Calf of Man.

(2): (n.) A small mass of ice set free from the submerged part of a glacier or berg, and rising to the surface.

(3): (n.) The fleshy hinder part of the leg below the knee.

(4): (n.) The young of the cow, or of the Bovine family of quadrupeds. Also, the young of some other mammals, as of the elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, and whale.

(5): (n.) An awkward or silly boy or young man; any silly person; a dolt.

(6): (n.) Leather made of the skin of the calf; especially, a fine, light-colored leather used in bookbinding; as, to bind books in calf.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [9]

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.  Leviticus 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,  Genesis 18:7; which is also described as 'the fatted calf' in the parable of the Prodigal Son.  Luke 15:23 . The calf or ox is used typically to represent one of the attributes of God in governmental power, namely, firm endurance.  Revelation 4:7 : cf.  Ezekiel 1:10 .

Holman Bible Dictionary [10]

 Genesis 18:7-8 1 Samuel 28:24 Luke 15:23 15:27 15:30 Leviticus 9:2-3 Jeremiah 34:18 Genesis 15:9-10 Psalm 68:30 Jeremiah 46:21 Ezekiel 1:7 Revelation 4:7Golden Calf

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [11]

Golden calf, which it is said Aaron made,  Exodus 32:1-4, It is remarkable, that though it is expressly said, that this was but one idol, yet the children of Israel addressed it as in the plural, and said, "These are thy gods, O Israel!" Did the Israelites, in direct defiance of the divine law, make this idol to resemble, according to their gross conceptions, the true God? Wherefore, do they otherwise call it gods? Certainly, there is somewhat mysterious in it. Jeroboam, in his days, made two calves, (See  1 Kings 12:26-28)

Smith's Bible Dictionary [12]

Calf. The calf was held in high esteem, by the Jews, as food.  1 Samuel 28:24;  Luke 15:23. The molten calf prepared by Aaron for the people to worship,  Exodus 32:4, was probably a wooden figure laminated with gold, a process which is known to have existed in Egypt. See Aaron .

King James Dictionary [13]

CALF, n.

1. The young of the cow, or of the bovine genus of quadrupeds. 2. In contempt, a dolt an ignorant, stupid person a weak or cowardly man. 3. The thick fleshy part of the leg behind so called from its protuberance. 4. The calves of the lips, in Hosea, signify the pure offerings of prayer, praise and thanks-giving.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [14]

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. ; ).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [15]

kaf ( עגל , ‛ēghel  ; פר , par , or פר , par , often rendered "bullock"): The etymology of both words is uncertain, but the former has a close parallel in the Arabic ‛ijl , "calf." Par is generally used of animals for sacrifice, ‛ēghel , in that and other senses. ‛Ēghel is used of the golden calves and frequently in the expression, ‛ēghel marbēḳ , "fatted calf," or "calf of the stall," the latter being the literal meaning ( 1 Samuel 28:24;  Jeremiah 46:21;  Amos 6:4;  Malachi 4:2 ).

At the present day beef is not highly esteemed by the people of the country, but mutton is much prized. In the houses of the peasantry it is common to see a young ram being literally stuffed with food, mulberry or other leaves being forced into its mouth by one of the women, who then works the sheep's jaw with one hand. The animal has a daily bath of cold water. The result is deliciously fat and tender mutton. Such an animal is called a ma‛lūf . From the same root we have ma‛laf , "manger," suggestive of the Hebrew marbēḳ , "stall."

The calf for sacrifice was usually a male of a year old. Other references to calves are: "to skip like a calf" ( Psalm 29:6 ); "the calf and the young lion and the fatling together" ( Isaiah 11:6 ); "a habitation deserted ... there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume the branches thereof" ( Isaiah 27:10 ). See Cattle .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [16]

(prop. עֵגֶל , E'Gel, Μόσχος  ; fem. עֶגְלָה , Eglah', Δάμαλις  ; sometimes פִּו or פָּו Par, a Steer or young bullock; also periphrastically בֶּן בָּקָר , son of the Herd), the young of the ox species. (See Beeve); (See Bull) etc. There is frequent mention in Scripture of calves, because they were made use of commonly in sacrifices. The "fatted calf" was regarded by the Hebrews as the choicest animal food. It was stall-fed, frequently with special reference to a particular festival or extraordinary sacrifice ( 1 Samuel 28:24;  Amos 6:4;  Luke 15:23). The allusion in  Jeremiah 34:18-19, is to an ancient custom of ratifying a contract or covenant, in the observance of which an animal was slain and divided, and the parties passed between the parts (comp. Homer, II. in, 20'), signifying their willingness to be so divided themselves if they failed to perform their covenant ( Genesis 15:9-10;  Genesis 15:17-18). The expression "calves of our lips," in  Hosea 14:2, is figurative, signifying the fruits of our lips (Wolf, Juvenci Labiorum, Viteb. 1711). As calves were used in sacrifices, the injunction requires us to render the sacrifice of prayer and praise to God, instead of the animal sacrifice ( Hebrews 13:15). (See Heifer).