681. The "Needle's Eye"

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Matthew 19:2424And again I say unto you, 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. (Matthew 19:24). 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.
There is supposed to be here a reference to a proverbial form of expression common in the Jewish schools, when one desired to express the idea of great difficulty or of impossibility. Lightfoot gives several quotations from the rabbis, where the difficulty is represented by the image of an elephant going through the eye of a needle.
Some writers, however, think that there is allusion in the text, not only to a proverbial form of speech, but also to a fact. They refer to the low, narrow entrances to Oriental houses, and to the difficulty a camel would experience in entering, though even a camel might enter if he would take off his load and kneel down,; which may be considered a hint to rich men who would enter the kingdom of heaven.
A recent English writer says: “In Oriental cities there are in the large gates small and very low apertures, called, metaphorically, needles’ eyes, just as we talk of certain windows as bulls’ eyes. These entrances are too narrow for a camel to pass through them in the ordinary manner, or even if loaded. When a laden camel has to pass through one of these entrances it kneels down, its load is removed, and then it shuffles through on its knees. ‘Yesterday,’ writes Lady Duff Gordon from Cairo, ‘I saw a camel go through the eye of a needle, namely, the low-arched door of an enclosure. He must kneel, and bow his head to creep through; and thus the rich man must humble himself’” (Bible Animals, by the Rev. J. G. Wood, p. 243).