Carl Andrews: Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

A god of silver, this 4-inch-tall calf dating to about 1600 B.C.E. was discovered in the ruins of a Canaanite temple in the coastal city of Ashkelon. Cast of solid bronze, it was once entirely covered with pure silver, and was probably associated with the worship of El or Baal, the most important gods in the Canaanite pantheon. Jeremiah castigates idol-worshipers who take a statue and “deck it with silver and gold” (Jeremiah 10:4). Silver had a variety of uses in the ancient world, as currency and for cultic and ornamental objects. Jeremiah finds another use for the metal: as a metaphor for the faithlessness of the people: “in vain the refining goes on, for the wicked are not removed. They are called ‘rejected silver,’ for the Lord has rejected them” (Jeremiah 6:29–30).