Posted by Lewis on October 17, 2003
In Reply to: 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 posted by Marijn de Klerk on October 17, 2003
: In the old times Jeruzalem used to have a very small port next to the main entry into the city through which
: late travellers could enter the city. (as the main entry was closed upon nightfall). This particular port
: was so small that only one man at the time could crouch through it, hence it was easy defended by just one guard. There from also comes it's name "eye of a needle". Due to the size of this port people we wanted to enter Jeruzalem after nightfall would have to leave
: most of their possesions behind, e.g. their camels and
: merchandise. So one had to make a choice between staying outside and trying to defend ones possesions from being stolen or enter the city to secure their own life.
I have heard a similar explanation, but with a slight variation - the Eye passageway was able to have camels go through, but they had to be unloaded - therefore a rich man had to 'free himself' of dependence on his possessions to enter heaven. It's a subtle difference, but when fanatics get hold of these kind of ideas, they tend to be very, very literal - it is like "the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil" being rather more subtle than misquoted "money is the root of all evil" - money is in itself morally neutral, but the attitude to it, including love of it, is what is important.
The same for the rich man. the story of the rich man who is told to sell his possessions is not because they were wrong, but because Jesus could see the man's unhealthy pre-occupation with them.
Good theology is both subtle and understands the true nature of both the earthly and the divine.