1. If I recall correctly, the sources say the idol was created grown up and fully functioning.

  2. Even if it was still in infant stages, Bava Kamma 65b:

    אמר רבא שור בן יומו קרוי שור

  3. (DonielF) according to Rashi (Shemos 32:4) they took Michah's golden plaque that said עלי שור on it and threw it into the fire, so a שור must come out.

I wonder why the idol is called everywhere "עגל" - calf and not a grown-up "שור" - bull?

  • I heard there was not enough gold to do more because the people in charge were stealing. Unlike Moshe Rabbenu later who gave a perfect account of all donations – mbloch Mar 11 at 7:39
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    Particularly according to Rashi to Shemos 32:4 that Michah took a golden plaque that said עלי שור on it and threw it into the fire, why did an עגל come out and not a שור? – DonielF Mar 11 at 8:38
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    I don’t think #2 is really a question. Even though an עגל is treated like a שור in regards to נזיקין, they’re still two different things. The passuk is being precise - they didn’t just make any שור, they specifically made an עגל. – DonielF Mar 11 at 8:43
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    @Al (You forgot to ping.) You say an עגל is a שור and therefore even if it was an עגל it should be called a שור. My point is that they're still two separate things, even if in certain Halachic contexts they're the same; the Torah calls it an עגל because it was, in fact, an עגל. – DonielF Mar 11 at 15:51
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    What do you think the idol was, a calf or a grown bull? If it was a calf, then I don’t understand what your question is asking: it’s called a calf because it was a calf. If it was fully grown, then I think you need to source that in order to have a basis for your question. – Joel K Mar 11 at 15:55

In Tehillim 106:19-20 it does in fact refer to the golden calf as both an eigel and a shor(bull):

יעשו עגל בחרב וישתחוו למסכה. וימירו את כבודם בתבנית שור אכל

One can suggest an analogy that though every eigel could be defined as a shor, not every shor can be defined as an eigel because if the animal has grown to proportions of an adult, it can no longer be called a youngling.

So too here the animal is called both an Eigel and a Shor as an accurate definition that it was small yet fully functional. This definition applies to the describe the golden calf for rest of Tanach as well, and need only be mentioned once.

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