Did Jesus really say that “it is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?” Maybe so, but probably not. At least, that’s what Benjamin L. Corey proposes. Corey suggests that there might not even be a camel in this metaphor! The Aramaic and Greek words for “camel” are awfully similar to the word for “rope,” referring to the rope that anchors a ship. Given Jesus’ context, Corey argues that “rope” is the better translation. This translation contrasts the typical (and false) interpretation that camels used to have to kneel and crawl through “needle” gates to enter Jerusalem (no such gates existed). Corey says that if we get rid of the camel in the story and just stick with the metaphor of a thick, heavy anchoring rope passing through the tiny eye of a sewing needle, we end up hearing what Jesus really meant.

Even though in both cases it is exaggerated metaphor, the word we choose does change the impact of the passage. A camel passing through the eye of a gate is hard, but not uncommon. A ship’s anchor rope passing through a sewing needle?

That would be both impossible and unheard of.

Kind of like a rich person wanting to join a Kingdom where the poor are the ones who are blessed.

Read Benjamin L. Corey’s full blog post here.