Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 12

The gold calves at Dan and Beersheba

1 Kings 12:28-30

An idol is an image that people make for the purposes of their religion. By that act, they do not always intend to replace the true God with their idol. Rather, they often consider the idol to be an easier way to bring their prayers to the real God.

For example, they cannot see the real God – but they can see their idol. They can approach it and they can pray in front of it.

King Jeroboam wanted an easier religion for his people to follow. He did not want them to go abroad to the temple, God’s house in Jerusalem. They could remain in their own country; he set up idols at Bethel in central Israel, and at Dan in northern Israel.

He chose the image of a calf, a young male animal of the same kind as an ox or cow. That was the image that Aaron too had chosen for Israel’s religion (Exodus 32:1-4). Like Aaron, Jeroboam too declared that he was not really changing Israel’s religion. Their God was still the God who rescued them from Egypt. However, instead of Moses, they now had these idols to bring their prayers to God.

These idols were not images of Baal. The religion of Baal was a much more wicked religion, which King Ahab introduced to Israel (16:30-33). Jeroboam’s religion continued in Israel even after King Jehu destroyed the religion of Baal there (2 Kings 10:28-29). However, Jeroboam’s religion was still wrong: it is against God’s law to make idols and to pray to them (Exodus 20:4-6).

Next part: The religion of Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:31-33)


Please use the links at the top of the page to find our other articles in this series. You can download all our articles if you go to the download page for our free 1000+ page course book.


© 2024, Keith Simons.