The easy yoke of labor (Mt 11:28-11:30)

“Come to me!

All you who are

Growing weary!

All you who are

Laden with a heavy burden!

I will give you rest.

Take my yoke!

Learn from me!

I am gentle.

I am lowly in heart.

You will find rest

For your souls.

My yoke is easy.

My burden is light.”

 

Δεῦτε πρός με πάντες οἱ κοπιῶντες καὶ πεφορτισμένοι, κἀγὼ ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς.

ἄρατε τὸν ζυγόν μου ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς καὶ μάθετε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ, ὅτι πραΰς εἰμι καὶ ταπεινὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ, καὶ εὑρήσετε ἀνάπαυσιν ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν·

 ὁ γὰρ ζυγός μου χρηστὸς καὶ τὸ φορτίον μου ἐλαφρόν ἐστιν.

 

Matthew concluded this chapter with a unique saying of Jesus.  Jesus wanted his followers to pick up the yoke of his message.  A yoke was put on the shoulders of farm animals to help with plowing and planting.  The term was also used to represent the yoke of the Torah on the shoulders of many Israelites.  Jesus invited all those who were growing weary to come to him (Δεῦτε πρός με πάντες οἱ κοπιῶντες).  He wanted all those with a heavy burden (καὶ πεφορτισμένοι), so that he might give them rest (κἀγὼ ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς).  They were to take his yoke (ἄρατε τὸν ζυγόν μου ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς) and learn from him (καὶ μάθετε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ).  He was gentle and lowly in heart (ὅτι πραΰς εἰμι καὶ ταπεινὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ).  They would find rest for their souls (καὶ εὑρήσετε ἀνάπαυσιν ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν) because his yoke was easy (ὁ γὰρ ζυγός μου χρηστὸς) and his burden light (καὶ τὸ φορτίον μου ἐλαφρόν ἐστιν).  The yoke of Jesus was light in comparison to the yoke of the Torah.

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The invasion of Assyria (Isa 5:26-5:30)

“Yahweh will raise a signal

For a nation far away.

He will whistle for a people

At the ends of the earth.

Here they come!

Swiftly!

Speedily!

None are weary.

None stumbles.

None slumbers.

None sleeps.

Not a loin cloth is loose.

Not a sandal-thong broken.

Their arrows are sharp.

All their bows bent.

Their horses’ hoofs seem like flint.

Their wheels seem like the whirlwind.

Their roaring is like a lion.

Like young lions,

They roar.

They growl.

They seize their prey.

They carry it off.

None can rescue it.

They will roar over it

On that day,

Like the roaring of the sea.

If one looks to the land,

There is only darkness.

There is only distress.

The light grows dark

With clouds.”

This oracle of Isaiah probably refers to one of the various Assyrian invasions of Judah and Jerusalem between 735-701 BCE. The nation from far away may be the Babylonians who will execute God’s judgment on them. These invaders are actually acting on Yahweh’s behalf since he gave them a signal and a whistle. They are going to come speedily, swiftly, not stumbling, sleeping, or growing weary. Their loin clothes and sandals are tight and ready to go. Their spears, bows and arrows, as well as horses are on the move. They roar like a lion about to eat its prey. They roar like a sea storm about to hit land. There will be darkness and distress, as everything will be cloudy.