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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary


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A yoke was a piece of curved wood placed over the neck of an animal to enable it to pull a plough or a cart (Numbers 19:2). According to a commonly used metaphor, the yoke was a symbol of hardship and bondage (Genesis 27:40; 1 Kings 12:4; Isaiah 9:4; Jeremiah 27:8; Jeremiah 28:1-16; 1 Timothy 6:1). In this sense Jewish law-keeping was a harsh yoke. It was a burden that the Jewish religious leaders forced upon the people (Acts 15:10; Galatians 5:1; cf. Matthew 23:4).


When people submit to Jesus Christ as their master, they take upon themselves his yoke. Christ’s yoke, however, is not harsh or heavy, but easy and light. Obedience to him does not create weariness, but brings refreshment, joy and meaning to life (Matthew 11:28-30; 1 John 5:3).

Farmers sometimes yoked animals together to form a pair or a team (1 Kings 19:19; Luke 14:19; Philippians 4:3); but Israelite law did not allow them to yoke together two animals of a different kind, such as an ox and an ass (Deuteronomy 22:10). Paul used this to illustrate that a Christian should not enter into a binding relationship (such as marriage) with a non-Christian (2 Corinthians 6:14).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Yoke'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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