The verses in the main question refer to the golden calves of Jeroboam I and Aaron, respectively. The term at issue is elohim. Does the phrase "behold elohim" refer to "the gods" or "God." If the latter, a secondary question is whether the calf was understood by its creators to be the seat of God (as with the golden cherubim in the Temple) or an actual symbol of God. In 1 Kings we read:
So the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” (1 Kings 12:28)
In the Exodus story it's only one calf but the declaration is virtually identical:
And he received the gold at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made a molten calf; and they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:4)
A related question is whether the "two calves" of Jeroboam refer to two calves at Bethel, or one at Dan and another at Bethel. I presume the latter on the basis of 1 Kings 12:29 - "he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan." But the main question is: was the Golden Calf a symbol of "the gods" or of "the God of Israel"? If the latter, why do the majority of translators insist on "the gods" rather than "God" for elohim?
Among more than 40 translations I've consulted I find only one that renders the Exodus version as "God."
HCSB - He took the gold from their hands, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made it into an image of a calf. Then they said, “Israel, this is your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!”
The same holds true for the version in 1 Kings. Only the HCSB translates elohim as "your God."
Update: the above survey searched for God with a capital "G." The singular "god" is used by several other authorities, including NASB, Darby, CEV, EHB, AMP, CEV, GNT, ISV and others. So the singular interpretation is more common that I previously thought.
It seems to me that the story in Exodus involves the improper worship of the God of Israel, not "gods," because the the next verse says:
Aaron... built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
In the case of Jeroboam I, there is a similar reason for "God" rather the "the gods" being the better translation, because he prefaces the unveiling of the golden calves with the statement: "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem." In other words the people had been making their pilgrimages to Jerusalem to worship God, and it was simply more convenient for them to worship Him at Bethel. In addition, in the first telling of the story, the sin of Israel does not appear to be idolatry, but worshiping God somewhere other than Jerusalem. In verse 30 we read: "And this thing became a sin, for the people went to the one at Bethel and to the other as far as Dan." It seems they accepted Jeroboam's argument that it was acceptable to worship God closer to home; they were not actually worshiping the calf as God, let alone "the gods."
Because nearly all translators use "the gods" instead of "God" for elohim here, I would like to know what the hermeneutical basis is for "the gods," as well any arguments for "God" that I might have missed.