a golden calf

golden calf

That which is given inordinate or unworthy praise, worship, or reverence. A reference to an idol mentioned in Exodus 32:4 of the Bible, created and worshipped by the Israelites in the absence of Moses, which was considered blasphemous in God's eyes. It has become apparent that wealth and power have become the golden calves of this country, the attainment of which people prioritize with slavish devotion.
See also: calf, golden

a golden calf

something, especially wealth, as an object of excessive or unworthy worship.
In the Bible, the golden calf was a statue of gold in the shape of a calf, made by Aaron in response to the Israelites' plea for a god while they awaited Moses' return from Mount Sinai, where he was receiving the Ten Commandments (Exodus, chapter 32).
See also: calf, golden
References in classic literature ?
Jeroboam set up a golden calf here to fascinate his people and keep them from making dangerous trips to Jerusalem to worship, which might result in a return to their rightful allegiance.
I contend that guns have become like a golden calf, a version of religion in many places in the United States.
Yom Kippur is marked as the day on which Moses descended from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments and announced God's pardon of people for worshipping a golden calf.
These institutions have turned free trade into a golden calf.