What does Jesus mean in Matthew 19:24 when He said 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? Is “the eye of a needle” a small little door in Israel when people have to unload their things from a camel to enter the old city?

There have been some interpretation talking about small side entrances into larger Jewish cities where one could gain a quick access to the city. But the gate was so low and tiny that the merchant’s accompanying camel would have to kneel down to pass or it would not pass at all. The problem is that existence of these tiny gates has never been confirmed.  The real meaning of Jesus is simply “impossibility.” Jesus uses a hyperbole statement, a figure of speech that exaggerates for emphasis (see also a “plank” in one’s eye in Matt 7:3-5 and swallowing a camel in Matt 23:24). In this context, those who are rich tend to trust in their riches and lose focus from God, thus jeopardizing access to the eternal life. We cannot be saved on the basis of our own merits or riches. Interestingly enough, the Jewish rabbinical literature mentions another animal passing through the eye of a needle as the same equivalent of impossibility: an elephant. The rabbinic Talmud was produced in Babylon where the biggest animal was elephant while in Jesus’ Israel the biggest animal was camel.