Sanhedrin 61 - Intention to Worship Idols

Rav Hamnuna lost several oxen and went to search for them. Rabbah met him and asked a question: we have learned that one who serves an idol is subject to stoning . This implies that one has to actually serve the idol to be liable. But in regard to a subverted city, we have learned that if one says, "I will serve," or "I will go and serve," or "Let us go and serve" a certain idol, he is already liable. So is action required or is professed intention sufficient?

Rav Hamnuna replied, "In the first case he does not accept the idol as deity until he serves it. In the second case, however, his statement implies that he accepts the idol as his deity as of now - and he will shortly serve it. Thus, he is liable for something else - for accepting the idol as a deity" - precisely as we have learned .

The Talmud does not say what happened to the oxen.

Art: Paul Gauguin - Rave Te Htit Aamy Aka The Idol