used only in the proverb, "to pass through a needle's eye" ( Matthew 19:24 ; Mark 10:25 ; Luke 18:25 ). Some interpret the expression as referring to the side gate, close to the principal gate, usually called the "eye of a needle" in the East; but it is rather to be taken literally. The Hebrew females were skilled in the use of the needle ( Exodus 28:39 ; 26:36 ; Judges 5:30 ).
The word "needle" occurs only 3 times, namely, in the reference to Christ's use of the proverb: "It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24; Mark 10:25; Luke 18:25). This saying ought to be accepted in the same sense as Matthew 23:24, "Ye blind guides, that strain out the gnat, and swallow the camel!" Christ used them to illustrate absurdities. A rabbinical parallel is cited, "an elephant through a needle's eye." Some writers have attempted to show that rhaphis referred to a small gate of a walled oriental city. No evidence of such a use of the word exists in the terms applied today in Biblical lands to this opening. "Rich man" here has the connotation of a man bound up in his riches. If a man continues to trust in his earthly possessions to save him, it would be absurd for him to expect to share in the spiritual kingdom where dependence upon the King is a first requisite.
The fact that needles are not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible should not be taken to indicate that this instrument was not used. Specimens of bone and metal needles of ancient origin show that they were common household objects.
James A. Patch
These files are public domain.