Acts 7:41

41 And 1they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and 2were rejoicing in 3the works of their hands.

Acts 7:41 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 7:41

And they made a calf in those days
Whilst Moses was in the mount; this was done in imitation of the Egyptian idol Apis or Serapis, which was an ox or a bullock; and it was made of the golden earnings of the people, which were melted down, and cast into the form of a calf, and graved by Aaron with a graving tool, ( Exodus 32:2-4 ) And so the Syriac version here reads in the singular number, "and he made them a calf"; this was a most shameful and scandalous piece of idolatry. The Jews themselves are so sensible of the horribleness of it, and of the guilt of it, and of the reproach that lies on them for it, that it is common for them to say F3,

``there is not a generation, or an age, in which there is not an ounce of the sin of the calf.''

Or, as elsewhere F4 expressed,

``no punishment befalls thee, O Israel, in "which there is not an ounce of the sin of the calf".''

And offered sacrifice unto the idol;
an altar was built, and proclamation made, that the next day would be the feast of the Lord; and accordingly early in the morning the people rose, and offered both burnt offerings and peace offerings, ( Exodus 32:5 Exodus 32:6 ) and rejoiceth in the works of their own hands; for so the calf was; and which rejoicing they showed by eating, and drinking, and singing, and dancing.


F3 T. Hieros. Taaniot, fol. 68. 3.
F4 Vid. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 102. 1.

Acts 7:41 In-Context

39 Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt,
40 saying to Aaron, 'Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.'
41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands.
42 But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: "'Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices, during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
43 You took up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the images that you made to worship; and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.'

Cross References 3

  • 1. Ex. 32:4-6, 35; Deuteronomy 9:16; Psalms 106:19
  • 2. Amos 6:13
  • 3. Isaiah 2:8; Jeremiah 1:16; Jeremiah 25:6, 7