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Can a Camel Pass Thru the Eye of a Needle?

Can a Camel Pass Thru the Eye of a Needle?
James Scott Trimm

In the King James Version of Matthew 19 we read:

23  Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
24  And again I say unto you, 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.
25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
26  But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
(Matthew 19:23-26 KJV)

A parallel account of these events also occurs in Mark 10:25, in Luke 18:25 and in the Gospel according to the Hebrews.  

But can a camel really go thru the eye of a needle?  What does this mean?  What does a camel have to do with a needle?

The saying was justified by a late Roman Catholic tradition about a gate into Jerusalem which the crusaders dubbed “the eye of the needle”.  According to the story the gate was so small that a camel could only get through it by removing its load and getting on its knees.  However the context of Yeshua’s illustration is not supposed to be an illustration of something that ids difficult but can be done with prayer and effort.  This is supposed to be an illustration of something “impossible” without Elohim’s supernatural intervention as Yeshua says (in the KJV version “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (19:26).

The key here is the word “camel”.  This is a perfect example of a passage which makes no sense in Greek, but makes perfect sense in the original Hebrew and Aramaic.  The word for “camel” here in the Hebrew is GAMEL and in the Aramaic is GAMLA.  This word can mean either “large rope” or “camel”.  The Semitic root GML may have two meanings: 1) To ripen and  2) "to bestow on". For this reason the Hebrew word GAMEL is used to refer to a "camel", because a camel is a beast of burden and has a burden "bestown" on it. This Semitic root GML also appears in Arabic as the Arabic word JAMEL meaning "to bear a burden" The Semitic root GML also appears in the Hebrew word גמלה (GAMLAH) (a gangplank) which is derived from the Aramaic )lmg (camel, rope or beam) as Klien's Etymological Hebrew Dictionary states:

גמלה Post Biblical Hebrew; gangway, gangboard. [Jewish Palestinian Aramaic GMLA; of uncertain origin.] - A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language for Readers of English; By Rabbi Ernest David Klein Ph.D.; 1987; p.103

Now how could Hebrew גמלה (gangplank) be derived from Aramaic (GAMLA) if the Aramaic word GAMLA can only mean "camel"? Certainly the Hebrew word גמלה must be derived from the Aramaic word GAMLA meaning "camel, rope or beam.".  

At this point we should examine the Greek word KAMHLOS which appears for "camel" in the Greek text of Mt. 19:24 (and parallels). This Greek word is not a Greek word as such. The Greek word KAMHELOS is actually a Semitic loan word. A poor attempt at transliterating GAMEL/GAMLA into Greek. Several authorities make reference to this fact. I will list only one: [UNDER GAMEL] "Gk. kamelos (whence L. camelus), is a loan word from Heb.-Phon. GML" - A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language for Readers of English; By Rabbi Ernest David Klein Ph.D.; 1987; p.103

Now according to the MANUAL GREEK LEXICON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT 3rd Ed. by G. Abbott-Smith; 1939; p. 229; there is an alternate spelling for Greek KAMHLOS which is KAMILOS. A GREEK-ENGLISH LEXICON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT AND OTHER EARLY CHRISTIAN LITERATURE; by Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich; 1957; p. 402; states that KAMILOS can mean "rope." Thus the Greek word KAMHLOS can also be spelled KAMILOS, can refer either to a camel or a rope and is actually a loanword from Semitic GAMEL/GAMLA.  

Finally two other sources verify that GAMLA may mean “large rope”: Teach Yourself Aramaic By Dr. Mar Aprem; Mar Narsai Press Trichur, Kerala, India; 1981; p. 95; THE NEW COVENANT PESHITTA ARAMAIC TEXT WITH A HEBREW TRANSLATION The Bible Society; Yerushalayim; 1986 p.356.

Clearly the intended meaning of GAMEL/GAMLA in Yeshua's saying is “a large rope through the eye of a needle” because there is a logical relationship between a large rope and the eye of a needle which does not exist with a camel and the eye of a needle.  Moreover this is an illustration, not of something that is difficult, but of something that is impossible without Elohim’s intervention.

As some of you may know, back in 2015 my wife had two major abdominal surgeries.  Due to complications from those surgeries she had to have an additional surgery on August 22nd   That surgery kept her in the hospital for a week. She came home on the 28th.  Then on Friday Sept 1st she got very ill with a high fever and an ambulance had to rush her back to the hospital with a post surgical infection.  She was back in the hospital for four days and has since returned home where she is still recovering.

This is not a time that I need to be worried about ministry funds.  And yet this has created some additional expenses for us at a time when we can least afford it


We need your help.  Financial support for this ministry has been way down in recent weeks.  

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