What was Jesus referring to by “the eye of the needle”?
23 And Jesus elooked around and said to his disciples, f“How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter gthe kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples hwere amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, i“Children, jhow difficult it is2 to enter gthe kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter gthe kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him,3 “Then who can be saved?” - Mark 10:23-26
There seems to a couple of possibilities to this question.
It may be a metaphor.
The term "eye of a needle" is used as a metaphor for a very narrow opening. It occurs several times throughout the Talmud. The New Testament quotes Jesus as saying that "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". It also appears in the Qur'an 7:40, "Indeed, those who deny Our verses and are arrogant toward them - the gates of Heaven will not be opened for them, nor will they enter Paradise until a camel enters into the eye of a needle. And thus do We recompense the criminals." - Eye of a needle
Perhaps there was a wicket gate to get into the city of Jerusalem.
A wicket gate, or simply a wicket, is a pedestrian door or gate, particularly one built into a larger door or into a wall or fence.
Use in fortifications
Wickets are typically small, narrow doors either alongside or within a larger castle or city gate. The latter were often double gates, large and heavy, designed to allow the passage of wagons, coaches and horsemen. The purpose of wickets was to avoid the risk of having to open the main gates to the castle or city for just one or two individuals on foot. Because the wicket was only one person wide, it only allowed entry one at a time and enabled the guards to better control access. In the Middle Ages the narrow doors in the city walls also enabled late arrivals to gain entry after the main gates had been closed.1
If the small entrance in the door of a large gate has a high threshold, it may be called a manway. If it is a separate, narrow entrance next to the main gate, it may be called a pedestrian entrance. This type of double entrance is rather uncommon, however, and was only worth having at large sites where there was a lot of coming and going. It is found, for example, at the Alsatian castle of Hohlandsbourg, the Hochburg in Emmendingen, the Electoral Cologne castle of Friedestrom and at Schaunberg Castle in Austria. The narrow side entrance could be protected by its own drawbridge and sometimes even opened into a gate passage separated from the main one as, for example, at Hohenwang Castle.
The wickets in main gates that were easily visible should not be confused with the small, hidden sally ports in the walls of castles and fortifications. These small openings were used in times of siege to escape to carry out military raids. - Wicket gate
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 not pass through the smaller gate unless it was stooped and had its baggage removed. The 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.
Could the Eye of a Needle Gate be Herod’ Gate.
Herod’s Gate is also called the Flower Gate, and it leads to the Muslim Quarter. Identifying a close-by structure as the palace of Herod Antipas - to whom Jesus was sent by Pontius Pilate (Luke 23:7). The gate leads straight to the Western Wall. Originally it was a wicket opening through the tower to ease the flow of traffic on the northern side of the Old City walls, east of the Damascus Gate.
Was the *eye of a needle really a wicket gate? Possibly, but it may seem the the Lord had a sense on humour in this subject.
The word camel in Aramaic May mean camel or rope!
It is easier for rope (camel) to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God!
Makes sense in Aramaic
An alternative linguistic explanation is taken from George M Lamsa's Syriac-Aramaic Peshitta translation which has the word 'rope' in the main text but a footnote on Matthew 19:24 which states that the Aramaic word gamla means rope and camel, possibly because the ropes were made from camel hair. Evidence for this also comes from the 10th century Aramaic lexicographer Mar Bahlul who gives the meaning as a "a large rope used to bind ships". - 'The camel and the eye of the needle', Matthew 19:24, Mark 10:25, Luke 18:25