Clearly, if "no other god" has any real power and, therefore, any real, substantive existence, it is grossly inappropriate that Israel should invest such an object with ultimacy. The [Hebrew] word...however, need not be rendered "idol." It is more properly rendered "image," a visible representation of Yahweh. The temptation, then, is not the creation of a rival that detracts from Yahweh, but an attempt to locate and thereby domesticate Yahweh in a visible, controlled object. This latter reading, which is the more probably, is also more subtle. It does not fear a rival but a distortion of Yahweh's free character by an attempt to locate Yahweh and so diminish something of Yahweh's terrible freedom.
- Walter Brueggemann
"The Book of Exodus," The New Interpreter's Bible Volume I