Eye of a needle

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For similar uses, see Eye of the Needle (disambiguation).
Eye of a needle

The eye of a needle is the section of a sewing needle formed into a loop for pulling thread, located at the end opposite the point. These loops are often shaped like an oval or an "eye", hence the metaphor.



The Babylonian Talmud applies the aphorism to unthinkable thoughts. To explain that dreams reveal the thoughts of a man's heart, the product of reason rather than the absence of it, some rabbis say:

They do not show a man a palm tree of gold, nor an elephant going through the eye of a needle.[1]

A Midrash on the Song of Songs uses the phrase to speak of God's willingness and ability beyond comparison, to accomplish the salvation of a sinner:

The Holy One said, open for me a door as big as a needle's eye and I will open for you a door through which may enter tents and [camels?].[2]

Rav Sheishet of Nehardea applies the same aphorism to the convoluted reasoning for which the sages of Pumbedita were evidently famous: "Are you from Pumbedita, where they push an elephant through the eye of a needle?" (Baba Metzia, 38b).


A church portal relief in Dortmund referencing Jesus's use of "camel through the eye of a needle" aphorism.

"The eye of a needle" is scripture quoting Jesus recorded in 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. When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:23-26

Parallel versions appear in Mark 10:24-27, and Luke 18:24-27.

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.

Cyril of Alexandria claimed that "camel" is a Greek misprint; that kamêlos (camel) was a misprint of kamilos, meaning "rope" or "cable".[2][3]


The "Eye of the Needle" has been claimed to be a gate in Jerusalem, which opened after the main gate was closed at night. A camel could only pass through this smaller gate if it was stooped and had its baggage removed. This story has been put forth since at least the 15th century, and possibly as far back as the 9th century. However, there is no widely accepted evidence for the existence of such a gate.[4][5] There is actually a small gate in Jerusalem called "eye of a needle". It can be found in the Russian Church, in the Old City of Jerusalem, but was built in the 16th century, and clearly has nothing to do with this passage.[citation needed]


According to the English interpretation of the Quran:

To those who reject Our signs and treat them with arrogance, no opening will there be of the gates of heaven, nor will they enter the garden, until the camel can pass through the eye of the needle: Such is Our reward for those in sin.[6]

Bahá'í Faith[edit]

The eye of the needle is also mentioned in the Bahá'í Scriptures by `Abdu'l-Bahá:

Bahá'u'lláh hath been made manifest to all mankind and He hath invited all to the table of God, the banquet of Divine bounty. Today, however, most of those who sit at that table are the poor, and this is why Christ hath said blessed are the poor, for riches do prevent the rich from entering the Kingdom; and again, He saith, '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.'(Mark 10:24-27) If, however, the wealth of this world, and worldly glory and repute, do not block his entry therein, that rich man will be favoured at the Holy Threshold and accepted by the Lord of the Kingdom. [7]
Present my best greetings to the honorable and spiritual women, to those who are very much attracted toward God, and particularly to that one who has proved that it possible for a camel to pass through a needle's eye. May God keep them in joy and happiness and burning with His love.[8]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ B.T. Berakhot 55b
  2. ^ a b "'The camel and the eye of the needle', Matthew 19:24, Mark 10:25, Luke 18:25". Hebrew New Testament Studies. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  3. ^ Manlio Simonetti - 2002 -"Cyril of Alexandria: By "camel" here he means not the living thing, the beast of burden, but the thick rope33 to which ... "This interpretation — "rope" (kamilos) and not "camel" (kamelos) — rests on the homonymic character of the two .."
  4. ^ Егор Розенков, Верблюд и игольное ушко // Духовный вестник высшей школы, № 8 (24), 01.09.2007
  5. ^ Morris, Leon (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. p. 493. ISBN 978-0-8511-1338-8. 
  6. ^ Al-Araf (The Heights) 7:40
  7. ^ 'Abdul-Baha. "Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá". Bahá'í Reference Library. 
  8. ^ Abdu'l Baha. Tablets of Abdu'l Baha v2. p. 260. 

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