Jul 9, 2009

Eye of the Needle

"The eye of a needle" is part of a phrase attributed to Jesus by the synoptic gospels:
...I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

The parallel versions appear in Matthew 19:23-24, Mark 10:24-25 and Luke 18:24-25.

The saying was a response to a young rich man who had asked Jesus what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus replied that he should keep the commandments. To which the man stated he had done. Jesus responded, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." The young man became sad and was unwilling to do this. Jesus then spoke this response, leaving his disciples astonished.

Another common explanation of the figure, is that Jesus was referring to a certain gate in Jerusalem called Needle's Eye. This entry-point was built like the eye of a needle and so low that a camel could pass only if it entered kneeling and unencumbered with baggage. The lesson would then be that an eternal inheritance awaits those who unburden themselves of sin, and in particular, the things of this world.

Also, kneeling represents submission and humility, which are required to enter into heaven. Although there is no historical evidence that such a gate ever existed, through frequent repetition the idea has attained the status of virtual dogma in some circles.

The Jaffa Gate in the wall of Jerusalem, showing the 'Needle's Eye.' Small doors such as this were common features of the gates of ancient cities; humans could pass through fairly easily, but large animals, such as camels, had to be unloaded and then had to kneel to get through, even then with difficulty."

That, or capitalists are totally hosed. Either way, it was an interesting point that I learned today.


Cthulhu said...


You ever see the Youtube video about the time travelling Xtian who offers footnotes during the sermon on the mount?

Can't find it otherwise I would linkify.

dropfry said...

"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. "

Ive heard its a misinterpretation. Its not a Camel like the animal, but a word that means a thick rope used on boats. Does anyone here know if that is true or not?