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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Yoke

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yōk :

(1) The usual word is עול , ‛ōl ( Genesis 27:40 , etc.), less commonly the (apparently later) form מוטה , mōṭāh (Isaiah 58:6 , etc.; in Nab Isaiah 1:13 מוט , mōṭ ), which the Revised Version (British and American) in Jer 27; 28 translates "bar" (a most needless and obscuring change). The Greek in Apocrypha (Sirach 28:19, etc.) and in the New Testament (Matthew 11:29 f, etc.) is invariably ζυγός , zugós . Egyptian monuments show a yoke that consisted of a straight bar fastened to the foreheads of the cattle at the root of the horns, and such yokes were no doubt used in Palestine also; but the more usual form was one that rested on the neck (Genesis 27:40 , etc.). It was provided with straight "bars" (mōṭōth in Leviticus 26:13 ; Ezekiel 34:27 ) projecting downward, against which the shoulders of the oxen pressed, and it was held in position by thongs or "bonds" (mōṣērōth in Jeremiah 2:20 ; Jeremiah 5:5 ; Jeremiah 27:2 ; Jeremiah 30:8 ; 'ăghuddōth in Isaiah 58:6 , "bands"), fastened under the animals' throats. Such yokes could of course be of any weight (1 Kings 12:4 ff), depending on the nature of the work to be done, but the use of "iron yokes" ( Deuteronomy 28:48 ; Jeremiah 28:13 f) must have been very rare, if, indeed, the phrase is anything more than a figure of speech.

What is meant by "the yoke on their jaws" in Hosea 11:4 is quite obscure. Possibly a horse's bit is meant; possibly the phrase is a condensed form for "the yoke that prevents their feeding"; possibly the text is corrupt. See JAW .

The figurative use of "yoke" in the sense of "servitude" is intensely obvious (compare especially Jeremiah 27,28 ). Attention needs to be called only to Lamentations 3:27 , where "disciplining sorrow" is meant, and to Jeremiah 5:5 , where the phrase is a figure for "the law of God." This last use became popular with the Jews at a later period and it is found, e.g. in Apocrypha Baruch 41:3; Psalter of Solomon 7:9; 17:32; Ab . iii. 7,. and in this sense the phrase is employed. by Christ in Matthew 11:29 f. "My yoke" here means "the service of God as I teach it" (the common interpretation, "the sorrows that I bear," is utterly irrelevant) and the emphasis is on "my." The contrast is not between "yoke" and "no yoke," but between "my teaching" (light yoke) and "the current scribal teaching'; (heavy yoke).

(2) "Yoke" in the sense of "a pair of oxen" is צמד , cemedh ( 1 Samuel 11:7 , etc.), or ζεῦγος , zeúgos (Luke 14:19 ).

See also UNEQUAL ; YOKE-FELLOW .


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Yoke'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/isb/y/yoke.html. 1915.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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