...than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Matthew (19:24). This is probably Jesus's trippiest analogy in the Bible. It was definitely said, as at least three Biblical authors heard it. There are two explainations given by theologists for such a seemingly whacked statement.

First off, there was a city gate in the walls of Jerusalem known as "The Eye of the Needle". Presumably, it was very difficult for a man riding a camel to squeeze through the narrow opening. There are two accounts of this, one being where the camel had to go through on his knees, or the camel had to go through unburdened. Either way, it was difficult.

The other explaination was that it was simply a very weird translation error. The Greek (the language of the original bible work) word for camel is kamelos. The (at the time new) Greek word for cable was kamilos. Kamilos was typically used to mean a sailor's rope. The pronounciation at the time would have been nearly identical, as around that time, that word was to be changed to the more modern Greek pronounciation. The translators may have shrugged it off as a writing error, or it may have been misconstrued by the re-telling of the stories.

Either way, it is hard to tell what Jesus's original meaning was. Contemporary religious scholars (including my not-so-scholarly self) consider it to be the mistranslation, and that while it is not impossible (as the mistranslation seems) for the rich to get into heaven, it is assumed that Jesus meant to say it is difficult, with much more perserverance needed, as it would be to get a cable through the eye of a needle.
    And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
    And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
    Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
    And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
    And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
    And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
    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.
    And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?
    And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
    Mark 10: 17 –27 (KJV)
A biblical phrase for the smallest opening imaginable. A remark attributed to Jesus in Mark 10:25. Paraphrased-- he announces that the camel, largest of the familiar animals of the era, can pass through the needle's eye more easily than a wealthy person can enter the kingdom of God. This startling image is toned down by the remark that with God all things are possible. The wealthy young ruler could not possibly abandon all and walks away. Not able to understand that Jesus is telling him that the Lord was prepared to give grace to the young man, if he had only said, O Lord, I cannot abandon my wealth, but give me grace.

His entire commentary draws attention to the dissimilarity between human activity and divine grace. This answer is so general in form that it cannot be regarded as complete; nor would it appear that Jesus expected it to be so regarded.

Some patristic interpreters remove the mixed metaphor in this figure of speech by reading rope (Greek kamilos) in place of camel (Greek kamElos). However, the variant form in the Babylonian Talmud, on the other hand, keeps the animal imagery and tell of the elephant passing through a needle's eye as something impossible. The proverbial saying that; for whatever may be possible with difficulty for a camel would be quite impossible for an elephant. The saying is hyperbolic - an exaggeration, to describe a thing very difficult to do.

Later Medieval affections for moral allegory created the suggestion that needle's eye referred to a narrow pedestrian gate used after nightfall when the large gates of the city were shut. Only by the load being removed from the camel's back, have him go down on his knees and crawl through the small opening, and with much pushing and pulling, could the animal be got through; so the rich man must get rid of his load of riches if he wished to enter the Kingdom of God. However, there is no evidence for any gate with this name and no ancient writer ever records this explanation; yet if it was customary for camels to get through postern gates such an explanation might have been expected from men familiar with the sight.

References

The Bible Study :
http://www.bibletopics.com/biblestudy/index.htm

Needle's Eye by Gary Larrabee:
http://www.steinbrueck.org/

Holy Bible; King James Version.

The Oxford Companion to the Bible, 1993.

The Needle's Eye that Jesus spoke of was actually a place. It was a mountain passage through which most merchants/traders had to pass if they were moving along the major trade routes. It was an extremely small path, and was very difficult to go through if you had a camel with you loaded with goods. Basically, the merchant would have to unload the camel, bring his belongings through piece by piece, and then go back and get his camel. Made it very difficult, but not impossible.

Saturday Night Live does a skit on this in which a wealthy person attempts to melt camels and force them through overly-sized eyes of needles. Quite humorous.

The meaning of this passage really does not have to be dug into as deeply as it often is. It does have similarities to some of the more complicated theories which say that the eye of the needle is a specific place, but the significance does not need to be so hidden as in them. It really is not necessary to say that the eye of a needle is a small pass that is so hard to climb through, you have to take all your possessions off. The meaning can be seen when Jesus's statement is taken more literally, and when it is not a double metaphor.

While many common explanations present the biblical passage as being either mistranslated, or being a mixed metaphor, or a hyperbole, it can just as easily be taken for face value. It is impossible for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle; likewise for the rich and the gates of Heaven. One might think, "There are plenty of nice Christians who just happen to be rich." However, as this statement illustrates, a rich Christian (especially one who dies in that state) is a contradiction in terms. A man who has wealth so beyond his need, has extreme power to do good. While at first this may seem as evidence against my interpretation, it is exactly the opposite. To achieve the Christian goals of charity and brotherhood among men, a rich person cannot remain materially wealthy.

As Jesus says just before the famous quote, in Matthew 19:21, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven." They must use their power and wealth to help others who are not so lucky. For every penny a man dies with that is more than he needed, there is a lost chance of a meal for some poor wretch on the street. For every luxury a man keeps in his life, there is a necessity another man lacks. For every rich man who tries to leave this world for a better one with his fancy tomb surrounded by mourners, there are many more who perish alone in the cold, forgotten by all but God.

Note: Beliefs expressed in this w/u may or may not reflect actual beliefs of the author. Please /msg me with any comments/complaints/suggestions with regards to this w/u. Thanks

"To those who reject Our signs and treat them with arrogance, no opening will there be of the gates of heaven, nor will they enter the garden, until the camel can pass through the eye of the needle: Such is Our reward for those in sin. (Quran, 7:40)"

Most Christian scholars today, inclined by medieval scholars, believe that needle eye is a narrow passage way in a biblical city. No historical record, biblical or otherwise, can support this claim.

Generally speaking, Muslims approach the Bible with caution because of corruption the Bible suffered over the centuries. Nevertheless, any seeming equality between passages in the Quran with passages in the Bible will provoke interest among Muslim scholars and create an acceptance for biblical authenticity towards compatible biblical passages with Quran. Jesus spoke, 6 centuries earlier, of a camel passing through the eye of the needle as related in Matthew 19:23-26

If we take passages in Quran preceding 7:40 and exceeding 7:40 to situate the passage into fuller context, it appears that these passages speak of heaven and hell. Most Muslim interpreters of Quran today believe a camel passing through the eye of the needle as impossible. Put into other words, residents of hell will stay in hell for infinity because of this alleged impossibility. On the contrary, with Allah all things are possible. All Allah needs to do for something to happen is say be, and it becomes.

Moses turned his stick into snake by Allah’s will. Additionally, Moses split the sea with Allah’s will. Torah, Bible, and Quran are full of stories relating Allah’s miracles. Consequently, it can be concluded Allah will let a camel pass through the eye of the needle as a miracle witnessed by populace of hell, before allowing residents of hell into heaven.

Hell is a temporary purification place. Most Christian and Muslim scholars today hold the analysis that residents of hell will stay in torture for eternity. If this was the case, then consider this authentic Hadeeth, "People who will be scorched by Hell (Fire) as a punishment for sins they have committed, and then Allah will admit them into Paradise by the grant of His Mercy. These people will be called, 'Al-Jahannamiyyiin' (the people of Hell).' " (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, ONENESS, UNIQUENESS OF ALLAH (TAWHEED), Volume 9, Book 93, Number 542)"

If Allah left his creations in hell for infinity, it would contradict his top quality, mercy. Additionally, irony is not listed among his 99 attributes in Arabic. Therefore, once Allah promised in 7:40 to let a camel pass through a needle, it will be done.

Will the camel stretch? Will the camel transform into a string as Moses stick transformed to snake? Will the camel shrink? Will the needle eye expand? The answer is imprecise. What is plausible is that it will be done because Allah is consistent in the promises he make.

It is reasonable to believe that this is what Jesus meant to his astonished disciples when he declared: With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

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