In the Qur'an usually only called the calf, but clearly in reference to the story of the idol that the Israelites made and worshiped, and which is commonly known as the Golden Calf, cf. Exodus 32.
al-Baqarah 2:51,54,92; an-Nisa' 4:153; al-A`raf 7:148,152; Ta Ha 20:88
What is the source of this story in the Qur'an? In a Jewish legend, we find
"And this calf came out lowing, and the Israelites saw it. Rabbi Yehudah says that Sammael was hidden in its interior, and was lowing in order that he might deceive Israel." (Pirqey Rabbi Elieser, 45, as quoted by Tisdall, The Original Sources of the Qur'an, pp. 112-114)It appears that Muhammad knew the legend. However, he was not able to figure out who Sammael [angel of death] was or could not remember, and so changed it to al-Samiri (i.e. the Samaritan).
This is really an historical anachronism, since Samaritans separated from the Israelites after the Exile to Babylon. This is more than 700 years later.
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