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Dear Gramps,I was reading in Matthew 19 and in verse 24 it says

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.”

I’ve heard this many times but was told the eye of a needle refers to a hole in a wall entering Jerusalem. Is this true or is an actual eye of a needle what Jesus was talking about?

Vinnie, from Arizona


Dear Vinnie,

There are a couple of points to consider with respect to your question. One hears about a gate through the wall of Jerusalem called the “eye of the needle,” but it seems to be a spurious reference. Concerning such a gate, Hugh Nibley has made the following comment:

“That’s an invention of modern-day criticism. There is no evidence anywhere at all that there was a gate called ‘The Eye of the Needle’” (Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol.9, Ch.11, p.315).

Another possibility, is that the word “camel” could have been a misinterpretation of the word for “rope.” The earliest known versions of the New Testament were written in Greek. But they were copies, and possibly copies of copies, of the original letters and epistles that made up the New Testament. Aramaic was the common language around Jerusalem in the time of the Savior, and it is possible that the original Gospels of Matthew and Mark were written in that language. We are informed by John. A. Widstoe that “the accidental absence of a dot converts the Aramaic sign for rope into camel” (John A. Widstoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p.117).

In any case, whether the original comment of the Savior, was with respect to a camel or a rope, the metaphor still holds true.


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