Bible Code

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Bible Code

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Throughout the 1990s a number of claims have been made that the text of the Hebrew Bible, what most Christians call the Old Testament, in particular the book of Genesis, contains references to a variety of contemporary events and persons completely unknown to those who wrote the biblical books. In 1997 a book entitled The Bible Code, authored by journalist Michael Drosnin, pushed the claims even further, suggesting the prediction of events prior to their occurrence, most notably the assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Those who have subsequently supported the idea of a coded message in the Bible have also put forth a belief that the existence of such a code leads to the conclusion that God actually authored the text.

The more popularized presentation by Drosnin grew out of the research of a set of Israeli scholars, most notably Doron Witztum, Eliyahu Rips, and Yoav Rosenberg. In 1994 the trio published a rather unassuming article, “Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis,” which detailed their discoveries from computer searches of the Hebrew text of the Bible. Choosing preselected words and dates, a computer can quickly search the text in a unique manner. The computer searches for words formed by looking at a preselected set of letters—every third letter or every twelfth letter, for example. The computer can also search the text both backward and forward. The distance between the selected letters is referred to as its step value. For this work, only the Hebrew text is used, the assumption being that the code disappears in translations and cannot be found in other books of equal length.

The suggestion to search for such a code came from the early twentieth-century writing of Rabbi Chaim Michael Dov Weissmandl (1903–1957), who without a computer did some searches of the text and made some preliminary findings. Though best known for his work to save Jews during the Holocaust, he was also an expert in deciphering ancient manuscripts. In 1983 Eliyahu Rips, a mathematician at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, initiated research on what became known as “equidistant letters sequences.” Focusing on the book of Genesis, Rips and colleague Doron Witztum discovered an interesting phenomenon: the close appearance of pairs of conceptually related words. Using computer software prepared by Yoav Rosenberg, Witztum and Rips prepared a list of notable individuals and appellations appropriate to each from the Encyclopedia of Great Men in Israel.

In the wake of the publication of the Drosnin book, a variety of people became involved in the search for a Bible Code, and a controversy arose with two extremes represented. One proposed that the existence of the code was proof of the divine inspiration of the Bible; the other voiced skepticism of the existence of the code and concluded the work behind it was pseudoscience. The support of the code, based as it is in a knowledge of the Hebrew text, has been carried forward primarily by conservative Orthodox Jews. Criticism has come largely from liberal Protestant Christians and religious unbelievers.

That the convergence of seemingly significant terms occurs in the text has been established. The ongoing argument centers on divergent opinions concerning the meaning and relevance of the findings. The primary criticism has been that the findings are pure coincidence and that similar findings could be found in other books. For example, Australian mathematician Brendan McKay did searches of the Hebrew translation of War and Peace, in which he discovered a number of words related to the Jewish holiday Chanukah. He also responded to an off-the-cuff remark related to the assassination of Rabin, in which Drosnin challenged his critic to find references to assassination in a book like Moby Dick. McKay subsequently produced references to a spectrum of assassinated individuals, including Indira Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy. The controversy has continued with a number of books, pro and con, and a 2002 sequel to Drosnin’s original book, Bible Code II: The Count Down, in which he claimed the Bible included information on the attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001.


Drosnin, Michael. The Bible Code. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.
___. The Bible Code II: The Count Down. New York: Viking, 2002.
Ingermanson, Randall. Who Wrote the Bible Code? A Physicist Probes the Current Controversy. Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press, 1999.
Satinover, Jeffrey. Cracking the Bible Code: The Real Story of the Stunning Discovery of Hidden Knowledge in the First Five Books of the Bible. New York: William Morrow, 1997.
Stanton, Phil. The Bible Code: Fact or Fake? Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998.
The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena © 2008 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from Conspiracies and Secret Societies. It is a summary of a conspiracy theory, not a statement of fact.

Bible Code

The Hebrew Bible contains encrypted information that can be revealed by computers employing equidistant letter sequence (ELS). The Bible Code proves that the divine hand of God guided the ancient scribes and directed them to place certain prophecies within the texts. The code provides firm scientific proof of the existence of God and his direction of earthly events.

Eliyahu Rips, an Israeli mathematician and one of the leading experts on group theory, together with Doron Witztum and Yoav Rosenberg, discovered the secret Bible Code. Rips and Witztum entitled their original paper on the experiment “Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis.” Although rabbis had discovered some parts of the code over the centuries, it was not until the advent of modern high-speed computers that the depth and intricacy of the coded information could be revealed.

To gain access to the mysterious code, the mathematicians first arranged the 304,805 Hebrew letters of the first five books of the Bible, the Torah, into a large array, removing all spaces and punctuation and running the words together one after another. Then a computer searched for matches in all directions for names, words, and phrases hidden in the text. Rips and his associates ran a test in which they set out to see if the code could pick out the names of the sixty-six rabbis who had the longest entries in various Jewish annals. The computer program found all sixty-six names embedded in the Hebrew text, together with either the rabbis’ birth or death dates.

In test after test, the Bible Code found people, places, and inventions that did not come into being until three thousand years after the ancient Hebrew texts had been recorded. Months before the start of the Gulf War, the researchers found the message fire on 3rd Shevat (January 18), the exact date that Saddam Hussein chose to fire scud missiles at Israel. The words Hussein, scuds, and Russian missile were all found encoded in a close matrix in Genesis.

Control texts, such as the Hebrew translation of War and Peace, were searched, and nothing but random words were found. According to Rips, only the Hebrew Bible may be used, for according to tradition, God gave the characters to Moses one at a time, with no spaces or punctuation. However, in 1997 the mathematician Brendan McKay, among others, found countless “predictions” in War and Peace and several other books

In 1994 Rips and his colleagues published a paper in the Statistical Science Journal that passed three levels of secular peer review. Their work was later confirmed by mathematicians at Harvard, Yale, and Hebrew University. It was replicated and confirmed by Harold Gans, a senior codebreaker at the U.S. Department of Defense. Since publication, research has indicated that the hidden code exists throughout all the books of the Tanakh in the original Hebrew.

In 1997 Michael Drosnin’s The Bible Code hit bestseller lists with its provocative claim that the Hebrew Bible contains a very complex code that predicted events which occurred three thousand of years after the ancient texts were first written. Among the startling examples given were the discovery of the name Hitler, and close by it, the terms evil man, Nazi and enemy, and slaughter. When Eichmann—Adolf Eichmann (1906–1962), the man Hitler named to mastermind the extermination of the Jews—was found, the words ovens, extermination, and Zyklon-B (the poison gas employed by the Nazi executioners of the Jews) were embedded nearby. The Bible Code also contained information regarding the assassinations of both John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and their assassins. Drosnin also found word clusters with more positive connotations. For example, a test for Shakespeare found his name embedded with presented on stage, Macbeth, and Hamlet nearby. Beethoven appeared near German composer, Wright Brothers near airplane, and Edison near electricity and light bulb. Rips has since distanced his research from Drosnin’s and emphasized the futility of attempting to predict the future from the code.

Drosnin, who says that he is an agnostic and an objective journalist, states that his belief in the Bible Code was confirmed when a fanatic’s bullet killed Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. Drosnin states that he had seen the assassination forecast in the code a year earlier and had even warned Rabin of the danger.

Conspiracies and Secret Societies, Second Edition © 2013 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
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