What does “yoke around the neck” mean?

Explore the biblical and agricultural significance of the idiom 'yoke around the neck' as a symbol of restraint, oppression, and hard work in various contexts.

Origin and Historical Context

The phrase “yoke around the neck” is an idiomatic expression that refers to a form of restraint or oppression.

It is often used to describe a situation where a person or group is subjected to a burden or hardship that is difficult to bear.

The phrase has its origins in biblical and agricultural contexts.

Biblical References

In the Bible, the term “yoke” is used to refer to a wooden beam that was placed across the necks of two oxen.

The oxen were then used to pull a plow or cart.

This practice was common in ancient times and was used to help farmers till their fields.

The yoke was also used as a metaphor for servitude and oppression.

For example, in the book of Exodus, Moses tells the Israelites that God will free them from their bondage in Egypt and “break the yoke of their burden” (Exodus 6:6).

This passage suggests that the Israelites were oppressed by their Egyptian masters and that God would liberate them from their bondage.

Agricultural Significance

The yoke was also used as a symbol of agricultural labor and the hardships that farmers faced.

In many cultures, the image of the yoke was associated with the idea of hard work and sacrifice.

For example, in the New Testament, Jesus uses the metaphor of the yoke to describe the burden of following him.

He says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

This passage suggests that following Jesus may involve sacrifice and hard work, but that it ultimately leads to spiritual rest and liberation.


  • She felt like she had a yoke around her neck, with all the responsibilities she had to juggle.
  • The workers were oppressed by their employer, who placed a yoke around their necks with low wages and long hours.
  • He finally broke free from the yoke around his neck, quitting his job and starting his own business.

Do Both “Yoke Around the Neck” and “Head and Shoulders Above the Rest” Phrases Refer to Burden or Superiority?

Yes, the phrases “yoke around the neck” and “head and shoulders above the rest” both refer to different meanings.

The former signifies burden or oppression, while the latter conveys a sense of superiority or excellence. Understanding head and shoulders meaning in various contexts is vital for clear communication.