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The Story of the Calf (Jewish and Islamic Versions)

The temple in Jerusalem is associated with many stories that can be found in Islamic and Jewish texts. One of them is that of the building of a calf that the Jews built when Moses spent 40 nights visiting Allah to receive divine revelation. Moses’ people, therefore, went astray and built a calf for worship while Moses was away for 40 nights. The Quran states:

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And (remember) when We appointed for Musa (Moses) forty nights, and (in his absence) you (Jews) took the calf (for worship), and you were Zalimun (wrong-doers) (Quran 2: 51).

Interestingly, the story of the calf is also mentioned in Jewish texts. The following compares the text in Torah and the Quran.

There are certain inconsistencies in Jewish text about the building of the calf. According to Jewish texts, Jeroboam I, the first king of Israel (around 10th century BC), is known to have introduced a golden calf in the Jerusalem temples. Although Jeroboam is not mentioned in the Quran, both Judaism and Islam refer to the calf in their scriptures. However, both have different versions of the story. The Biblical version of the story is reflected by the following verse (in Torah):

Then Aaron (referred to as Harun in the Quran) took the gold, melted it down, and molded it into the shape of a calf. When the people saw it, they exclaimed, “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus [Torah] 32:4) (Note: The Book of Exodus or, simply, Exodus is the second book of the Hebrew Bible, and of the five books of the Torah (the Pentateuch))

Quran, on the other hand, shows that Aaron didn’t build the calf. However, as the calf was built, he was overwhelmed by his people and he could not stop them from building the calf. The following Quranic verses tell that story:

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And when Musa (Moses) returned to his people, angry and grieved, he said: “What an evil thing is that which you have done (i.e. worshipping the calf) during my absence. Did you hasten and go ahead as regards the matter of your Lord (you left His worship)?” And he threw down the Tablets and seized his brother by (the hair of) his head and dragged him toward him. Harun (Aaron) said: “O son of my mother! Indeed the people judged me weak and were about to kill me, so make not the enemies rejoice over me, nor put me amongst the people who are Zalimun (wrong-doers)”  (Quran 7:150).

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And when the anger of Musa (Moses) was calmed down, he took up the tablets; and in their inscription was guidance and mercy for those who fear their Lord (Quran 7:154).

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… Then they worshipped the calf even after clear proofs, evidence, and signs had come to them. (Even) so We forgave them. And We gave Musa (Moses) a clear proof of authority  (Quran 4:153).

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And the people of Musa (Moses) made in his absence, out of their ornaments, the image of a calf (for worship). It had a sound (as if it was mooing). Did they not see that it could neither speak to them nor guide them to the way? They took it (for worship) and they were Zalimun (wrong-doers)  Quran (7:148).

Source: Jerusalem is Ours: The Centuries old Christian, Islamic, and Muslim struggle for the Holy Lands image

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1 comment… add one
  • Henry Malcom

    The important fact here and is also clear: is that the Hebrew Israelite made a choice to whorship that which was created and need to be carried by men as apposed to worshiping the creator of all things the one who carries/sustains all men.Allah far warns us that some seek to argue that which is allegorical.

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