Let’s take a brief look at each of our readings. Joshua, the disciple of Moses, led the Israelites until 1200 b.c.; and King Saul took over as their leader after 1070 b.c.. But, in the intervening hundred and seventy years, each of the twelve tribes led its separate existence; except for when they were threatened by common foe, as was the case with today’s reading.
The Midianites, a desert people not engaged in farming, waited across the Jordan until the Israelites were harvesting their grain. The Midianites would then swoop down on the Israelite farmers, stealing their crops. The Book of Judges speaks of twelve Israelite “Judges,” who were champions for all the tribes, and Gideon was the first of them.
Then, in the Gospel, Jesus said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. Fundamentalists who take everything in the Bible literally say that Jerusalem had a gate known as the Needle’s Eye, and it was too narrow for a camel to pass through it. If you didn’t realize that Jesus could exaggerate. that would explain his words. However, Jerusalem never had such a gate. The Fundamentalists just made it up.
When Jesus said it was hard for a rich man to enter heaven the disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?”
In Old Testament times the Israelites didn’t know about heavenly rewards. They thought that good people were rewarded with earthy riches. They thought the amount of riches anyone amassed was an indication of how highly God thought of that person. Jesus says otherwise.