Why is the bull or calf–as opposed to some other animal–so important in the ancient near east?

Here’s a great explanation of the bull theme as associated with ancient deities.https://dornsife.usc.edu/wsrp/deity-on-a-bull/#:~:text=The%20bull%20was%20a%20widespread,of%20the%20fertility%20god%20Apis.&text=Many%20scholars%20believe%20that%20Jeroboam,to%20represent%20God%20(YHWH).

Besides the episode in Exodus, there is a famous one in 1 Kings about Jeroboam setting up two golden calves at Dan and Bethel. While Kings uses this as evidence of Jeroboam’s apostasy, it seems that even after it was forbidden to worship Yahweh/El AS a bull, it was okay to show him as an invisible God being CARRIED by two bulls. 

As we know, bulls are still symbols of virility in Spain (bullfights, running of the bulls) and the US (rodeos), so I guess it makes sense that they were symbols of virility in the ancient near east as well. Most gods (and goddesses) of ancient cultures had important fertility functions in temples, and based on the reference to male and female temple prostitutes in the bible, El/Yahweh probably had that function as well. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hieros_gamos

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