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.