ROPE OR CAMEL, YOU DECIDE
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle,
than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God”
This Scripture verse is not without controversy. The message from Jesus is loud and clear,
but there seems to be disagreement in regard to the translation of the word “gamla.”
Tradition would say that the eye of the needle refers to a small side door which would either be a section of a
larger entrance gate, or a low door fixed along a wall. The purpose of it would be to enter or exit after dark
when the gates to the city (in this case, Jerusalem) were locked. The idea is that if
a traveler were to arrive on a camel, the camel would be unloaded and brought to its knees in order
to pass through the small gate. This would impose a degree of difficulty, but not insurmountable.
It makes sense, however there are more scholars adhering to an alternate explanation, including the
explanation found in the Wycliffe Bible Commentary. The Aramaic word gamla can mean “camel,”
but it can also mean “rope.” Jesus spoke Aramaic, and because there has been no conclusive evidence that
the gates of Jerusalem had a smaller gate for the purpose of after hours’ use, most believe that rope makes
a lot more sense in the context of the passage. In other words, Jesus was saying that it would be easier to
pull a rope through the eye of a needle than for someone who valued their riches over kingdomly values.
The New Testament gospels were written in Greek and there may have been a number of cases where the
translation back and forth from Aramaic to Latin was ambiguous. It is believed that the original Greek may
have been translated into the Latin word kamilos, meaning rope, and was confused with the word kamelos
which meant camel. But whichever, Jesus was pointing out a basic truth regarding the difficulty of entering
the kingdom when holding on to worldly possessions.
If the possessions preempt heavenly values, they are useless.
If you think this was a unique situation to the 1st century, think again. We live in a materialistic world big
time. The number of people who are more concerned with whatever riches this world can bring their way, far
outnumber those who’s priority is a heavenly one. Musical words from the theme song to the Apprentice,
“money, money, money” are catchy enough to ring in your mind all the next day.
It’s called ‘For The Love Of Money’ by the Ojays. Look up the lyrics. They’re very revealing.
The riches of this world aren’t exactly God centered, are they?
There are so many times when Jesus advised all of us to generously share our wealth with those less
fortunate. Just pick one - the Gospels are full of them. If we’ve been given much, much is required.
A scenario to be seriously considered..