10407. 'And made out of it a calf of molded [metal]' means in keeping with the delight belonging to that nation's loves. This is clear from the meaning of 'a calf' as external or natural good, dealt with below; and from the meaning of 'molded [metal]' as worship fashioned in support of external kinds of love, dealt with immediately above in 10406. And since the Israelite nation is the subject in the present chapter and that nation's interest lay in external things and not in what was internal, and so was ruled by external kinds of love, the expression 'in keeping with the delight belonging to that nation's loves' is used. For 'the calf', being an idol, means that delight.
 The ancients among whom representative worship existed knew what the various kinds of living creatures were the signs of; for the living creatures each have their own spiritual meaning, and their spiritual meanings govern the manifestations of such creatures in heaven as well, consequently the mention of them in the Word, and also their use in burnt offerings and sacrifices. 'A calf' means the good of innocence and charity within the external or natural man, see 9391, 9990, 10132; but when no good of innocence and charity is present, as is the case with those whose interest lies in external things and not in what is internal, 'a calf' means natural delight on the level of the senses, which is a delight belonging to a person's own wishes, desires, self-love, and love of the world. This delight is the one that exists with those whose interest lies in external things and not in what is internal, and the one they worship; for what a person loves above all things, that he worships. They say, it is true, that they worship the God of all creation; but they say it with their lips and not their heart. People such as these are meant by those who worship the calf of molded [metal].
 The Egyptians were such more than all others. Because they possessed a greater knowledge of correspondences and representations than all other nations they made various idols for themselves, as is evident from the Egyptian idols that are still in existence. But their chief idol was the calf, by which they wished to signify their external good within worship. But when their knowledge of correspondences and representations, which was greater than that of other nations, was turned into magic, the calf took on a contrary meaning, namely that of the delight belonging to external kinds of love. And when the calf was placed in temples and worshipped as a god it meant that kind of delight expressed in worship.
 Because the Israelite nation brought that idolatrous practice with them out of Egypt, in their case the calf, when worshipped by them as a god, means the delight belonging to their particular loves expressed in worship. What kind of loves these were may be recognized from what has been shown in the places referred to above in 10396. For they were ruled, as they are at the present day, by self-love and love of the world more than all others. It is well known that at the present day they are ruled by a most earthly kind of love; for they love silver and gold not because of any use these can serve but for the sake of silver and gold themselves. This love is the most earthly of all, for it is foul avarice. With them self-love is not plainly visible but lies hidden in their heart, as is normally so with all who are foully avaricious. It is well known too that no love of the neighbour exists with them; and to the extent that love of the neighbour is absent from someone, self-love resides in him.
 From all this it now becomes clear what the calf of molded [metal] made by Aaron for that nation means. The like is meant by it in the following places: In Jeremiah,
A very beautiful heifer was Egypt; destruction has come from the north. And her hired servants in the midst of her are like calves of the fattening stall 1
. Jeremiah 46:20-21.
They made a calf in Horeb and bowed down to the molded image; and they changed the glory into the effigy of the ox that eats the plant 2
. Psalms 106:19-20.
They sin more and more, and make for themselves a molded image from their silver, idols by their own intelligence, completely the work of craftsmen, saying to them, Those who offer human sacrifice 3
kiss the calves. Hosea 13:2.
The unicorns will come down with them, and the calves with the powerful ones; and their land will become drunk with blood, and their dust will be made fat with fatness. Isaiah 34:7.
In the same prophet,
The fortified city will be solitary, a habitation forsaken and left [like a wilderness]; there the calf will feed, and there it will lie down and consume its branches. And its harvest will wither. Isaiah 27:10-11.
Rebuke the wild animal of the reeds, the congregation of the strong ones, among the calves of the peoples, trampling on the fragments of silver. They have scattered the peoples. Psalms 68:30.
I will give the men who transgressed My covenant, who did not keep the terms of the covenant which they made before Me, that of the calf which they cut in two, in order that they might pass between its parts - the princes of Judah, and the princes of Jerusalem, the royal ministers and the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf - I will give them into the hand of their enemies, that their dead bodies may be food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth. Jeremiah 34:18-20.
And in Hosea,
They have made a king, and not by Me; they have made princes, and I did not know. Their silver and their gold they have made into idols, that they may be cut off. Your calf has deserted [you], O Samaria. For from Israel is this also. A smith has made it, and it is not God; for the calf of Samaria will be broken to 4
pieces. Hosea 8:4-6.
For explanations of all these quotations, see 9391.
1. i.e. mercenaries who are like fat bulls
2. i.e. grass or herbage
3. Reading Sacrificantes hominem (Those sacrificing a human being i.e. Those who offer human sacrifice) for Sacrificant hominem (They sacrifice a human being)
4. literally, will become or will be made into