When the Israelites demanded that Aaron make them a god, why did he choose to make a golden calf?
"He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool." - Exodus 32:4
Aaron was probably influenced by the religions that he had been exposed to. Bulls and cows were common forms of gods in Egyptian and Near Eastern religions. One of the most famous Egyptian bull deities was the Apis Bull, regarded as the embodiment of a creator god, Ptah. Bulls symbolised strength and male sexuality, while cows were connected with fertility and motherhood.
This was not the only time the Israelites sinned by worshipping cattle deities. In 1 Kings 12:26-33, Jeroboam, in order to discourage the Israelites from travelling to Jerusalem to make sacrifices, had two golden calves set up at Bethel and Dan. “And this thing became a sin…” (v. 30).
Again, in Hosea 13:1-2, there is a reference to the Israelites worshipping Baal and kissing “calf-idols”. Baal was usually portrayed with the head and horns of a bull. For these and other sins, God pronounced judgement on them.