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The theory of the Bible Codes

The theory of the Bible Codes states that inside the Biblical Hebrew text, names and events have been encoded by God dictating the Pentateuch to Moses letter by letter in an exact sequence. These codes can not be deciphered by a normal reading of the text but can be found by a decoding technique called Equidistant Letter Sequence, (or ELS).

The seven basic statements of the theory

The seven basic statements of the theory of Bible Codes, as summarized by Dr. Jeffrey Satinover in his book, “Cracking the Bible Code”, are the following:

1) The Torah (Pentateuch) can both be treated as a sacred text in the usual way, and as an encrypted text containing some kind of coded message.

2) The coded message was constructed by utilizing successive letters in the encrypted text selected at equidistant skip intervals.

3) The content of the coded message serves to confirm the unity and integrity of the encrypted text.

4) The content appears in the form of statistical tendencies for selected words to appear in identified locations at greater frequency than should occur by chance.

5) One such tendency is for a code to appear many times in a passage of related text.

6) Another very important tendency is that two or more different but related words can be found in the matrix in unusually close proximity. This can be either the “crossword effect”, i.e. the key code’s vertical column is crossed horizontally or diagonally by a meaningfully related word, or the “cluster effect”, where meaningfully related words appear in the matrix more closely together than unrelated words.

7) If a specified code is found at several different equidistant skip intervals, the smaller intervals should be considered more meaningful than the larger ones for two reasons: one is that if the skip intervals get large, “close clusters” lose their meaning or they become more difficult to assess; the second reason is that in a large enough range of text it is possible to find a specified word many times at different intervals. A short interval would make the found occurrence be considered as worthy of note.

Brief history of the Bible Codes theory

The Bible states that God dictated the Torah, (i.e. The Law, the first 5 books of the Old Testament, also called the Pentateuch), to Moses: “And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord”, (Exodus 24:4).

An ancient tradition says that when God dictated the Torah to Moses, letter by letter, historic facts, past, present and future were encoded in the Hebrew Scriptures by an encryption system which can be described and unlocked.

During the Middle Ages a very famous rabbi, Moses Cordevaro, wrote, “The secrets of the Torah are revealed....in the skipping of letters”. In the 18th century the greatest Jewish thinker of his time, Rabbi Elijah Solomon, known as the Vilna Gaon, said, “All that was, is, and will be unto the end of time is included in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible”.

However, the thorough statistical analysis of huge quantities of text could only happen with the development of the computer.

In 1990 Computronic Corporation, an Israeli software development firm, released the first commercial Bible codes decoder program.

In 1994 the old tradition received a sound scientific basis when three Israeli mathematicians, (Professor Elyahu Rips, from the Hebrew University, Doron Witztum and Yoav Rosenberg), used statistical methods and computers to research the Book of Genesis, searching by “equidistant skip interval” for the encrypted names of 32 sages who lived between the 9th and 18th centuries, checking every nth letter, where n can take any value. They published their study, Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis, in the scholarly journal Statistical Science, (Statistical Science 9:429-438), about what they called ELS (Equidistant Letter Sequences) in Genesis. The program found most of the names, with the odds against this occurring by chance calculated at 62,500 to 1. Their summary said: “When the Book of Genesis is written as two-dimensional arrays, equidistant letter sequences spelling words with related meanings often appear in close proximity, with analysis showing that the (statistical) effect is significant at the level of 0.00002”, (i.e. the odds are 62,500 to 1). This study gave mathematical and statistical evidence that information about personalities, events and dates can be found encoded in the Hebrew Scriptures.

The researchers, for comparison purposes, did similar analysis in a Hebrew translation of War and Peace, a scrambled Book of Genesis, and other texts. In none of them the results were different from what would occur simply by chance.

Other researchers discovered that the name of Itzjak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister, which is found encoded only once in the Hebrew Scriptures, (in the Book of Deuteronomy, from chapter 2, verse 33 to chapter 24, verse 16), appears crossed, (as in a crossword) by the phrase assassin will assassinate. When Rabin was murdered, the Bible Codes theory became the center of international interest and passionate controversy. Books on the subject became huge best sellers.

Software was developed to allow users to search by themselves the Hebrew Scriptures for hidden codes. Today, with the release of this program, millions of English speaking people can search the Hebrew Scriptures for hidden codes without knowing Hebrew. You can type the search code in English, the program automatically translates it to Hebrew, searches and retrieves the text into a matrix, analyzes it and automatically translates all the found words to English!

Description of the Bible Codes theory

The theory of Bible Codes, as summarized by Dr. Jeffrey Satinover in his book, “Cracking the Bible Code”, states the following:

a) The Torah (Five Books of Moses) can both be treated as a sacred text in the usual way, and as an encrypted text containing some kind of coded message.

b) The coded message was constructed by utilizing successive letters in the encrypted text selected at equidistant skip intervals.

c) The content of the coded message serves to confirm the unity and integrity of the encrypted text.

d) The content appears in the form of statistical tendencies for selected words to appear in identified locations at greater frequency than should occur by chance.

e) One such tendency is for a code to appear many times in a passage of related text.

f) Another very important tendency is that two or more different but related words can be found in the matrix in unusually close proximity. This can be either the “crossword effect”, i.e. the key code’s vertical column is crossed horizontally or diagonally by a meaningfully related word, or the “cluster effect”, where meaningfully related words appear in the matrix more closely together than unrelated words.

g) If a specified code is found at several different equidistant skip intervals, the smaller intervals should be considered more meaningful than the larger ones for two reasons: one is that if the skip intervals get large, “close clusters” lose their meaning or they become more difficult to assess; the second reason is that in a large enough range of text it is possible to find a specified word many times at different intervals. A short interval would make the found occurrence be considered as worthy of note.

Internal evidence in the Bible for the existence of the codes.

The Bible has many verses, which can be interpreted, as giving evidence to what the theory of the code states:

God dictated the Torah to Moses:
“And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord”. (Exodus 24:4).

God encrypted:
“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing”. (Proverbs 25:2).

Messages have been hidden:
“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book”. (Daniel 12:4).

Man is encouraged to unlock the codes and find understanding:
Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gets understanding. (Proverbs 3:13).

If God hid messages in the codes, should we try to decode them?

There is a school of thought, which accepts the existence of the codes but argues that if God hid them, we do not have the right to try to decode them. We respectfully differ from this point of view, basing ourselves in the biblical verse, which says that “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the honor of kings is to search out a matter”. (Proverbs 25:2). It is also written in Proverbs: “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gets understanding”. (Proverbs 3:13).

Can the codes be found also in other sacred books?

There is an on-going debate between researchers whether the codes can be found only in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible), or in the whole Bible.

The “Torah only” researchers state that, although all the Scriptures are divinely inspired, the Torah (Five Books of Moses) is unique among all the sacred writings, because it is the only text dictated by God letter by letter, in an exact sequence, as it is written in the Bible: “And the Lord said to Moses: Write these words”, (Exodus 34:27), “And Moses wrote this Torah”, (Deuteronomy 31:9). There are no similar claims about the other Bible books. For this reason, the “Torah only” researchers concentrate their investigations only in the text of the Torah.

These scholars consider that the text of the Torah is completely reliable because, through the centuries, scribes have been forbidden to make any changes when writing a Torah scroll. Learned scribes have copied the Torah through the generations under the strict supervision of rabbinical authorities. Each scroll is examined letter by letter to prevent errors. (In these days of scanners and computers, software programs have been developed which do this exacting job). The act of faithfully preserving the Torah has always been for the scribes a sacred endeavor. This copying procedure is done only for the Torah, not for the other biblical books. Therefore, it is possible that the other books, although they are divinely inspired, may have acquired variant spellings during the course of the centuries. The structure of the codes is such that even the addition (or subtraction) of one single letter, or the different placement of a letter, will cause that a code found in one manuscript may not be found in another.

However, “Whole Bible” researchers are currently investigating the possible existence of hidden codes in other biblical books.

We believe that as long as research is done in a properly controlled fashion, the results, whatever they may turn out to be, will be a useful contribution to the on-going debate.

Can – or should - the codes be used to predict the future?

Most people, upon first hearing of the codes, ask whether they can be used to predict the future. The basic problem is that there is no way of knowing that a found code is true other than by comparing it to a known fact, i.e. if it relates to events that have already happened. It is humanly impossible to know whether a code which deals with a future event, is true or not, because, by definition, the feature is unknown to us. Only the past is known.

You can search for codes related to future events, but it is essential to take into account that the code findings about the future are “probable” (i.e. their statistical likelihood can be calculated), not absolute. The theory of the Bible Codes is not fatalistic but shows that many paths are possible, and our choices are crucial. Their intrinsic statistical nature, (probabilities), prevents them from being used as an oracle. Analyzing the findings it can be said that the closest related words are more probable than those that are far apart, but none is impossible. We can only discover the ones that have occurred after the fact.

If we can not discover the future through the codes, what is their purpose? Dr. Jeffrey B. Satinover in his article “Divine Authorship?” (BR October 1995 Page 44) stated the following: “What then was the purpose of encoding this information into the text? Some would say it is the Author’s signature… His way of assuring us… that He is precisely who He had said He is”.

Although the Bible forbids divination, (Leviticus 19:26, Deuteronomy 18:10), code researchers believe that using a computer as a tool to unlock the Bible codes which refer to the future, does not fall under that prohibition because decoding the encrypted messages can not be considered divination.

The decoding procedure

The Bible Codes theory states that hidden messages were encoded in the Bible by an encryption method called “the Equidistant Skip Interval”, a encoding procedure that takes every nth letter, (where the n value can be any number chosen by the encoder), in order to form a word or phrase.

The procedure of finding a code is a matter of trial and experiment, requiring a measure of patience. The researcher, after specifying the word that he wants to search, (which we call the Key Code), chooses a range of text in the Bible, and lets the computer analyze the text with successive equidistant skip intervals, starting from one and continuing to several thousands.

The program first arranges the Torah into a continuous string of 304,805 Hebrew letters, then it starts searching, from the first letter of Genesis, (or from the first letter if the specified range of text starts from some other verse), skipping from letter to letter by one skip, then two, and so on, until it reaches the maximum skip value specified by the researcher.

If the program, checking by one skip, does not find the specified Key Code, it renews the search from the second letter of Genesis, (or from the second letter if the specified range of text starts from some other verse), and repeats the skip search from letter to letter by one skip, then two, and so on, until it reaches the maximum skip value specified by the researcher.

If the program again does not find the specified Key Code, it starts with the third letter, and so on until if finds the specified word.

It is quite possible to find the Key Code in more than one skip interval, in which case the program, when it finishes the search procedure, will give a list showing all the occurrences found of the Key Code, with the skip interval of each and their location in the biblical text.

When the researcher clicks one of the found Key Codes, the program retrieves the range of text where the Key Code was found, rearranging the text into a two dimensional array or matrix where the length of each line in the retrieved text is the nth distance in the equidistant skip interval.

For example, the name Itzjak Rabin (in Hebrew) which is found encoded only once in the whole of the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), in Deuteronomy, from chapter 2, verse 33, to chapter 24, verse 6, at an equidistant skip interval of 4772, (i.e. a distance of 4772 between each of the letters that form the name Itzjak Rabin). The program retrieves this text arranging it in lines of equal length (4772 letters in each line, with no spaces between them). In this way the code Itzjak Rabin appears in a vertical column.

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