Introduction to the Bible
Calf figurine from Samaria (northern Israel), period of the judges.
It is debated whether the calves were meant as deities or as
pedestals/mounts of deities (some figurines have peg-holes on their backs
where a statue of a deity could have been attached, and some reliefs
actually show deities standing on the backs of calves and bulls). The idea
of the calf as the mount or pedestal of God was apparently the idea
underlying the Golden Calf in Exodus 32: it didn't symbolize another god
but YHWH, standing invisibly on the calf's back.