Manners & Customs: Yokes
Yokes in ancient Bible times
The yoke. The yoke is a rude stick that fits the necks of the cattle. Two straight sticks project down each side, and a cord at the end of these sticks and underneath the cattle's necks holds the yoke on the necks.
These yokes of wood are often spoken of in the Scriptures (Jeremiah 28:13, etc.).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Products of the carpenter. There are several products of the Eastern carpenter's skill. Many have wondered what JESUS as a carpenter made. There is an old tradition that has come down to us, that he was a maker of plows and yokes.
The yoke, and most of the plow, with the exception of the iron ploughshare, are constructed of wood, and so would be the task of the carpenters. As there were many farmers among the ancient Hebrews, as there are among the Arab peasants today, there would be a great demand for yokes and plows. Other products of the carpenter would include wooden locks and wooden keys for houses, doors, roofs, windows, low tables, chairs or stools and chests for storage use. The carpenter's most ornamental work would include paneling of the roof, latticework for windows, and decorative art on house doors. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
ANIMALS USED IN PLOUGHING
Use of oxen. In Bible times oxen were used almost exclusively for ploughing. For this reason the expression "a yoke" was used by the Hebrews to mean the measure of land which a yoke of oxen could plough in a day (cf. I Samuel 14:14, and Isaiah 5:10). "Oxen" as the Hebrews used the term, meant both sexes of the animal, cows being used as well as bulls for purposes of draught, but the latter were castrated.
This explains the reason for the law specifying concerning a heifer to be used for sacrificial purposes, that it be one "upon which never came yoke" (Numbers 19:2). The law of Moses forbade ploughing with an ox and an ass yoked together (Deuteronomy 22:10). The Apostle Paul spoke of "the unequal yoke" in connection with partnership between believers and unbelievers (II Corinthians 6:14).
Today, the Arabs usually make use of oxen in ploughing, but sometimes utilize camels, and occasionally yoke together an ox and a donkey, or a camel and a donkey. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Ploughing After the Rain
Getting ready for ploughing. The farmer gets ready for ploughing after the first rain starts falling, if he has not already done so before. He will spend the time making sure that his plough is in good repair and ready for action. He may need to cut and point a new goad to use in prodding his team of oxen. He must also see to it that his yoke is smooth and fits the necks of the animals. An ill-shaped or heavy yoke would gall them. The LORD JESUS spoke of "the easy yoke" promised to His obedient followers (Matthew 11:30). When the ground has been softened sufficiently by the rain, then the ploughing can begin. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Yoke in Easton's Bible Dictionary
(1.) Fitted on the neck of oxen for the purpose of binding
them the traces by which they might draw the plough,
19:2; Deut. 21:3). It was a curved piece of wood
(2.) In Jer. 27:2; 28:10, 12 the word in the
Version rendered "yoke" is _motah_, which properly
"staff," or as in the Revised Version, "bar."
These words in the Hebrew are both used figuratively
bondage, or affliction, or subjection (Lev. 26:13; 1
Isa. 47:6; Lam. 1:14; 3:27). In the New Testament
"yoke" is also used to denote servitude (Matt.
11:29, 30; Acts
15:10; Gal. 5:1).
(3.) In 1 Sam. 11:7, 1 Kings 19:21, Job 1:3 the word
translated is _tzemed_, which signifies a pair, two
or coupled together, and hence in 1 Sam. 14:14 it
much land as a yoke of oxen could plough in a day,
Latin _jugum_. In Isa. 5:10 this word in the plural
Yoke in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
mot, the wooden bow (ol) bound to the ox's neck: the two are
combined, "bands of the yoke" (Leviticus 26:13; Ezekiel 34:27;
Jeremiah 2:20, rather "thou hast broken the yoke and burst the
bands which I laid on thee," i.e. My laws, setting them at
defiance, Jeremiah 5:5; Psalm 2:3). Contrast the world's heavy
yoke (1 Kings 12:4; 1 Kings 12:9; 1 Kings 12:11; Isaiah 9:11)
with Christ's "easy yoke" (Matthew 11:29-30). Tsemed, a pair
of oxen (1 Samuel 11:7), or donkeys (Judges 19:10); a couple
of horsemen (Isaiah 21:7); also what land a pair of oxen could
plow in a day (Isaiah 5:10, "ten acres," literally, ten yokes;
Latin: jugum, jugerum; 1 Samuel 14:14).
Yoke in Naves Topical Bible
Le 26:13; Isa 9:4; 10:27; Jer 2:20; 5:5; 28:2,4,10;
La 1:14; 3:27; Mt 11:29,30; Ac 15:10
Yoke in Smiths Bible Dictionary
1. A well-known implement of husbandry, frequently used
metaphorically for subjection, e.g. 1Ki 12:4,9-11; Isa 9:4;
Jer 5:5 hence an "iron yoke" represents an unusually galling
bondage. De 28:48; Jer 28:13
2. A pair of oxen, so termed as being yoked together.
1Sa 11:7; 1Ki 19:19,21 The Hebrew term is also applied to
asses, Jud 19:10 and mules, 2Ki 5:17 and even to a couple of
riders. Isa 21:7
3. The term is also applied to a certain amount of
land, 1Sa 14:14 equivalent to that which a couple of oxen
could plough in a day, Isa 5:10 (Authorized Version "acre"),
corresponding to the Latin jugum.
Yoke in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
(1) The usual word is `ol (Gen 27:40, etc.), less commonly
the (apparently later) form moTah (Isa 58:6, etc.; in Nab
1:13 moT), 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 (Mt 11:29 f, etc.) is
invariably zugos. 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 Israel also; but the more usual form was one
that rested on the neck (Gen 27:40, etc.). It was provided
with straight "bars" (moToth in Lev 26:13; Ezek 34:27)
projecting downward, against which the shoulders of the oxen
pressed, and it was held in position by thongs or "bonds"
(moceroth in Jer 2:20; 5:5; 27:2; 30:8; 'aghuddoth in Isa
58:6, "bands"), fastened under the animals' throats. Such
yokes could of course be of any weight (1 Ki 12:4 ff),
depending on the nature of the work to be done, but the use
of "iron yokes" (Dt 28:48; Jer 28:13 f) must have been very
rare, if, indeed, the phrase is anything more than a figure
What is meant by "the yoke on their jaws" in Hos 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.
The figurative use of "yoke" in the sense of "servitude" is
intensely obvious (compare especially Jer 27, 28). Attention
needs to be called only to Lam 3:27, where "disciplining
sorrow" is meant, and to Jer 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 Mt 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 tsemedh (1
Sam 11:7, etc.), or zeugos (Lk 14:19).
Yokes Scripture - Ezekiel 30:18
At Tehaphnehes also the day shall be darkened, when I shall
break there the yokes of Egypt: and the pomp of her strength
shall cease in her: as for her, a cloud shall cover her, and
her daughters shall go into captivity.
Yokes Scripture - Jeremiah 27:2
Thus saith the LORD to me; Make thee bonds and yokes, and put
them upon thy neck,
Yokes Scripture - Jeremiah 28:13
Go and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast
broken the yokes of wood; but thou shalt make for them yokes
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