The Camel And The Needles Eye

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Mark 10:25

This scripture has proved to be very troubling to those seeking some interpretation. It is obviously impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle therefore it must be concluded that it is impossible for a rich man to enter into heaven. It would then follow that only poor people can get into heaven. Then the question arises as at what point do you cross the line between rich and poor. How much wealth do you need before you are considered rich and when d you cross that line where you are considered rich.

You may sit back feeling comfortable that you are not rich therefore you have nothing to worry about, but in the eyes of someone from a third world country you would be considered rich and therefore it is impossible for you to enter heaven.

So, this one verse that we completely ignore as everyone wants to go to heaven but we don’t want to be poor to do it.

But this is, after all, the Word of God and is for a purpose, so we cannot just turn our heads the other way and go about our business. At least I cannot turn a blind eye to this scripture. And need some closure on it.

People who have traveled to Israel often come back with photographs of a gate in Jerusalem which their tour guide, looking to WoW their shekel paying customers, explains is the gate known as the Eye of the Needle. This is a very low and small gate which was kept open after the main gate closed for the night and a came, could only pass through this smaller gate if it were to have its baggage removed and got down on its knee and crawled through. However, your wily tour guide will not mention that this gate was constructed in the 16th century and did exist during the time of Christ. There are other variations to this which include ancient inns having small entrances to mountain passes that has such small entrances that the merchants had to dismount their came,s to pass through.

These explanations sound plausible and take away the impossibly of a rich man going to heaven only he still has to divest himself of his riches to get into heaven. On top of that there are absolutely no historical evidence of any of these. Besides in verse 26 Jesus discloses that it is impossible to pass through without God, not without your riches.

Most Hebrew commentaries will point out that such an expression is common in all Eastern cultures but it is usually expressed as an elephant going through the eye of a needle and that expression is a hyperbole to something that is impossible. As far as using the a camel to express this, it is believed that people in Judaea would be more familiar with a camel. However, if they were not familiar with elephants they would not be familiar with this idiom to begin with. This expression would be familiar to the Jews as that very expression which is used. (Which is tradition). They do not show a man and a palm tree of gold, nor an elephant going through the eye of a needle.

However, if Jesus was using such a familiar expression why change it to a camel and you are still expressing an impossibly and saying it is important for a rich man to get into heaven without the help of God.

The Midrash (Interpretation) in making a commentary on the Song of Solomon does allude to this idiom in the expression. “The Holy One says, open for me a door as big as a needle’s eye and I will open for you a door through which may enter tents and camels, although it is questionable that the Aramaic word used here really means camel.

Here lies the root of the problem. The Greek word used for camel is Kameolon which means just that camel and nothing else. Yet, Jesus did not speak this in Greek but in Aramaic. The Aramaic word for camel is gamla which has a double meaning both rope and camel. The coarse hair of the camel was often used to fashion a rope binding these hairs together, hence the word gamla took on the double meaning.

Needles in ancient times were not these little metal pun type needles like we purchase today, these needles were large and made of oak and you could thread a cord through it. They were often threaded with a cord and hung over the necks of camels. When the thread was passed through the eye of the needle some of these fibers would come off. Hence a rich man must, learn to share some of his luxuries.

The translation of some Aramaic words to Greek do not coincide with the same meanings. If you don’t understand the language of the original Aramaic Bible it is easy to get confused or not know exactly what the context is. Which results in mis-interpretations of the Bible.

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