A frame of wood with vertical pins which effectively separated the oxen so that together they could pull heavy loads. The yoke was a single cross-bar with rope nooses that were fastened round the animals' necks. The cross-bar was attached to a shaft, and so the wagon was drawn.
Figuratively, the yoke was used for hardship or submission. In typical prophetic style, Jeremiah wore a yoke round his neck to symbolize his message that Judah should submit to Babylon (Jer. 27: 2). Jesus spoke of his ‘easy yoke’ (Matt. 11: 29–30), one that did not chafe. Rabbis spoke of taking the yoke of the kingdom of heaven, by which they meant submitting to the sovereignty of God's will.