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yoke


A wooden or iron frame for joining two oxen or other draft animals so they can pull a plow, cart, or other heavy load. A yoke generally consisted of a single crossbar with leather or rope nooses or wooden rods that were fastened around the animals’ necks (Jer 27:2). The crossbar was attached to a shaft that pulled the load (Deut 21:3; 1Sam 6:7; 1Sam 11:5; 1Kgs 19:19). A “yoke of oxen” might refer to a pair of oxen (1Sam 11:7; 1Kgs 19:21; Luke 14:19). The image of a yoke was used figuratively as a symbol of hardship, submission, or servitude. Jeremiah wore a yoke to symbolize his message that Judah should submit to Babylon (Jer 27-28). The image of a yoke may also be used with reference to other burdens or responsibilities, such as hard service (1Kgs 12:1-11), sin (Lam 1:14), service to God (Lam 3:27; Jer 2:20; Jer 5:5), or obedience to Torah (Acts 15:10; Matt 11:29-30).

  • Powell, Mark Allan, ed. HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. Abridged Edition. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009.