In this section I shall cover two types of Bible Codes: (i) Word Codes, (ii) Number Codes. The word codes are hidden words that are in the original text of the Bible that relate to people, places, events and other items all through history. The number codes are specific number values of words and phrases that appear again and again in the text of the Bible whenever the same item is described. These codes have been suspected all through the centuries, but only with the aid of the computer extensive investigations could be made. All the significant works on these Codes have appeared since 1994. There are several Internet sites you can find dealing with the Codes mystery, pro and con. I acquired the major published books on the Codes to write this exploratory article.
The Word Codes
In most references, these are simply referred to as Bible Code. In this century, the person who started Codes discoveries is undoubtedly Rabbi Weissmandl, a brilliant Czechoslovakian Jewish scholar who had escaped from the Nazi Holocaust and emigrated to America. Following the clues left by a 14th century Jewish sage Rabbenu Bachya, Weissmandl spent his time studying the Torah text which he wrote with his own hand, all the 304,805 consonantal letters, in a 10 x 10 array. From this text he discovered the name of Abraham encoded in the opening chapter of Genesis (1:22-26) where God (Elohim) gave his first blessings to the fishes and birds to be fruitful and multiply. Abraham, likewise was blessed by God.
The hidden word ABRHM was found on a vertical line, each letter being separated from the other by exactly the same number of letters, 49. Even more surprising, Elohim (ALHYM) was in the plain text between every letter of the name ABRHM (horizontal text, read right to left). See the passage below with ABRHM (vertical) and ALHYM (horizontal, right to left). The full text may be found in Jeffrey Satinover’s book, Cracking the Bible Code (1997).
The Hebrew letters transliterated above will be given in a later context. Weissmandl had indeed discovered the Equidistant Letter Sequence (ELS) which was further researched by later investigators. Oren, a follower of Weissmandle found that the name ‘Aaron’ was encoded in Leviticus 1:1-13 where only the sons of Aaron are mentioned repeatedly.
First Major Publication
The ELS code got worldwide exposure in August 1994 when three Israeli researchers Doron Wutztum, Eliyahu Rips and Yaov Rosenberg published a scholarly scientific paper in the journal, Statistical Science (see below part of the front page).
These researchers were able to locate in the Torah the names of 66 Jewish rabbis listed in the Encyclopedia of Great Men in Israel spanning several centuries. In each case the place and dates of birth and death were also encoded in close proximity (the ‘cluster phenomenon’).
However, the general public did not come to know of ELS until a New York Times Bestseller, The Bible Code, appeared in the Spring of 1997. This was authored by Michael Drosnin, a former reporter to Washington Post, who did his own computer search for coded words. The front cover of his book (shown below) shows Drosnin’s identification of Yitzhak Rabin whose name appeared in a vertical column, crossed by ‘Assassin That Will Assassinate’, a reference to Rabin’s death. According to Drosnin, his efforts to warn Rabin ahead were futile; a year later Rabin was shot (November 4, 1995). Drosnin’s book contains many other coded names of celebrities, dictators, major world events past and present, and makes claim of future catastrophes such as earthquakes and comet collision. No wonder the book became a bestseller. Drosnin’s critics are many, attacking him of his ‘loose’ methods to discover ‘coded’ words.
Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, a Jewish scholar and psychiatrist defended the Codes by his articles and by his scholarly book, Cracking the Bible Code (1997), an excellent reference on Bible Code history and development.
The Christian researchers followed the lead of their Jewish counterparts. Yacov Rambsel, a Messianic Jew, published his book, Yeshua (means Jesus) in 1996 in which he presented evidence of Yeshua’s name coded throughout the Old Testament, beginning with Genesis 1:1. Christians know that that Christ is in every book of the Old Testament, specific persons representing him as types. Thus Isaac is a type of Christ; so is Joseph and David and Solomon Christ’s role as Redeemer is foretold throughout the OT. Every sacrifice done at the Temple foretold his sacrifice. Every part of the Tabernacle and Temple represented him.
Shown below are the covers of the three books I mentioned above.
The Torah Code
The name Torah (meaning The Law) itself was found encoded in Genesis One, in fact starting with the first word, beresit or braisheet (vowels are not in the text). By skipping 49 letters after each letter, one can find the next letter for Torah The other books of the Torah also contains the coded word Torah except in Leviticus, pretty much at the same interval (some times in backward sequence).
Gen. 2:4-10 describes the Garden of Eden in just 379 Hebrew letters. In this passage the word ‘Eden’ is encoded 16 times. The second chapter of Genesis also has in code form every one of the 25 trees mentioned in the rest of the Old Testament, date, vine, oak, fir, olive, and so on. You may refer to Grant Jeffrey’s book, The Signature of God (WORD Publishing, 1998) for more details.
I already mentioned that Yacov Rambsel discovered the Yeshua code in many parts of the OT. Yeshua in Hebrew has only four letters (read from right to left). The four letters are (transliteration): ‘yodh’, ‘sheen’, ‘vav’ and ‘ayin’. Yeshua in Hebrew is shown below along with the Hebrew alphabet.
The most remarkable passage in the Old Testament that deals with the suffering of Christ is Isaiah 53. Grant Jeffrey (see above) lists 42 code words in this chapter which contain the names of Jesus and his disciples, the high priests, King Herod, Caesar, the three Marys, places such as Galilee and events such as Passover and Crucifixion. Jesus and his disciples are encoded in Exodus 30 also.
The critics and skeptics have started attacking the Codes as fraudulent or fictitious. They are attempting to show the Code phenomenon is not limited to the Hebrew Bible, but could be found in famous literary works in English. ELS is bound to happen in any text of length. The defenders of the Code argue that the clustering phenomenon described above cannot be explained by chance, and has not been found in other books. The absence of vowels in Hebrew makes it possible to coin several words from any group of consonantal letters. Interestingly enough, the Jewish scholars who defend the Torah Codes find fault with the Yeshua Codes! They argue that the letters making up the word Yeshua is so short (of four letters) that its repeated appearance should not be much of a surprise.
Some critics argue that there are textual variations between one Hebrew OT and another, hence Codes will not be found in each of them. This criticism is not sound. First, the textual variations between three ancient manuscripts of the Torah show only a 9-letter variation in the entire 300,000 letter text (see Satinover’s book cited above). There are over 6000 letter variations between these Torah versions and the corrupted Samaritan Pentateuch. Yet, even here, the textual meaning has not been affected. The Codes will not fall apart like a domino, because the words and letters that form the text are not interconnected rigidly, so a corrupted part may not affect the rest of the text for code identification.
More light will be shed on the Codes as time goes on. One thing is certain: even if the Codes are genuine, the skeptics will refuse to believe it. If the Codes are fraudulent, we do not need to defend them blindly. The Bible has withstood the test of time based on its plain text, and there is ample evidence for its divine inspiration. The Codes, if true, could reinforce this position, that’s all. Furthermore, the Codes do not give any doctrine, and they don’t show us the way of salvation. So Christians must reject claims such as made for the Codes, e.g., ‘the greatest discovery of all time’. The Bible is the greatest book ever written, and its message is the greatest message we humans can find. We shall not reduce the Bible to a fortune telling book, which is the way some Code hunters use it.
The Number Code
Numbers in the Plain Text
The Bible text contains several special numbers that are used for special occasions and purposes. In my article, ‘The Original Bible Revealed!’ I cited a few, such as the number 22, 7 and multiples of 7, the number 6 and its multiples. Since these occur in the plain text, they are not mysteriously coded. Yet, these numbers have special significance. The number 7 is indicative of divine perfection and completion: it is God’s number. God rested on the 7th day of Creation and called it holy. The Book of Revelation uses 7 repeatedly: 7 candlesticks, 7 churches, 7 seals, 7 trumpets and 7 vial judgments.
More on the Number 7
Chuck Missler’s chapter in the book, Mysteries of the Bible Now Revealed (Edited by David A Lewis and Jim Combs; New Leaf Press, March 1999) is entitled, The Mysterious Mathematical Design of the Bible. He brings out an array of instances where the number 7 or its multiples appear. In fact, the first verse of the Bible is, ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth’. If we take the Hebrew text of this we find:
Number of Hebrew words 7
Number of letters 28 = 4×7
(There are more 7s if we count the letters by selecting fewer words)
See the original text of Gen. 1:1 below
Dr. Ivan Panin of Russia discovered in the 19th century many interesting number patterns in the Bible. For example, in the Gospel of Ma thew (Greek text) the first section (1-17)dealing with the genealogy of Jesus. has 56 nouns (7×8), the article ‘the’ of 7 different types occur 56 times. The first section has two parts, 1-11 and 12-17. The first section has exactly 49 Greek words, of which 28 (=7×4) begin with a vowel. The number of words that occur once is 7; the total number of letters in the 49 words is 266 (=7×38). The number which are not male names is 7. Three women are named, and their letters add up to 14 (=7×2). Only one city is mentioned, and the letters add up to 7. We all know that the plain text of the genealogy of Jesus describes 42 generations divided into three equal parts of 14 each.
Chuck Missler cites many other examples. The following is a selection of the words that appear in both the OT and the NT together as shown below:
Hallelujah 28 (7×4)
Shepherd 21 (7×3)
Isaac 126 (7×18)
Aaron 448 (7×64)
The Number 6
In contrast with 7, six is man’s number: Adam was created on the 6th day. It is also associated with man’s rebellion with God. The most noted example is the number 666, the Mark of the Beast (Rev. 13:18). Some manuscripts give it as 616. Nebuchadnezzar’s golden idolatrous statue was 60 cubit high. I had mentioned in my article on the Bible that due to pagan influence the total number of books of the Bible is 66 instead of the original 49. The Israelites who set out from Egypt were 600,000, and they all perished in the wilderness due to their rebellion except for two people.
The ancient people gave number values to the letters of the alphabet. We are familiar with the Roman numerals such as I (=1), V (= 5), X (=10), L (=50), C (=100), D (=500), M (=1000). So 1999 would be MCMXCIX where CM = 900, XC = 90, and IX = 9. Interestingly, M was introduced later, so if we put together all the number letters as DCLXVI, we get 666!
More on 666
In the Bible the most mysterious number is 666 which is the number of a man, says Revelation. Numerous attempts have been made to match this number with past dictators beginning with Nero Caesar of Rome. In Latin, if we add the number value of the letters of his name NERON, 50+6+500+60+50 = 666 (see William Barclay, Revelation , Vol 2, p.102,The Westminster Press, 1976). If the last N is dropped, we get 616, which is found in some ancient copies of Revelation. If the Hebrew name of Nero is used, and Hebrew number values are used, we get 666 for Nero Caesar. One attempt to equate Hitler with the Antichrist was to show that HITLER added up to 666 if we assign A=100, B=1=1 etc. Unfortunately, people have found ways to come up with 666 for others such as the Pope, John Knox, Martin Luther and Napoleon. In our own time, the strong feeling is that it is a computer code. When the bar code was introduced, there were three double lines, one in the middle, and one on either end. The number value of the double line is 6, so we get 666. There is no doubt the speculations on this mysterious number will continue.
The Number 40
It is associated with trials and testing. Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai. Noah’s Flood lasted 40 days and nights. Jesus fasted for 40 days.
Number Value of Hebrew and Greek Letters
We are now going to enter into a more detailed examination of the number codes found throughout the Bible which can be found only by applying the number values to key words and phrases. Del Washburn’s book, The Original Bible Code (Madison Books, 1998) is the most elaborate treatise on this subject. He uses the word Theomatics (‘Divine Mathematics’) to describe the phenomenon, that God arranged the plain text of the Bible in such a way that every time a key word or phrase appears anywhere in the Bible, it has the same number value of its multiple, while the plain text itself is logically connected and well harmonized. No human endeavor could have accomplished this feat, he says.
The number values of the ancient Hebrew and Greek alphabetic letters are shown below.
The Number value for ‘Jesus’: 888
This number is associated with Jesus Christ. ‘Jesus’ in Greek has a number value of 888 Jesus rose from the dead after the Sabbath, the first day of the week (or the 8th day). The Greek word for Jesus is shown below. The number values of the letters add as 10+8+200+70+400+200 = 888
The Number value for ‘World’ (kosmos) : 600
The various letters of the Geek word add as 20+70+200+40+70+200 = 600
The Mark of the Beast : 666
This number is spelled out in the plain text of Rev. 13.18, but in some early Greek manuscripts it is coded in three letters whose number values add as 600 + 60 +6 = 666.
Washburn’s book gives many examples of the number values which he calls ‘Theomatic values’. The following examples are a small selection:
Love: ( ): 93
The New Testament word for divine love is ‘agape’ (). When this word is used with other words, the phrases also have theomatic values, all of which are multiples of 93. Examples (I am giving the English text only):
Matt. 24:12 THE LOVE OF MANY WILL GROW COLD: 93 x 30
Luke 11:42: THE LOVE OF GOD : 93 x 15
Rom. 8:35 SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE: 93 x 26
However, when this word is used along with Christ in the same verse, the number value is a multiple of 8: LOVE OF CHRIST : 8 x 310.
The word ‘agape’ is used with two other spellings also in the New Testament (adding another letter at the end), and in these instances, its value changes to 144 and 294 in passages that contain these spellings.
It is also interesting to note that in some passages LOVE OF GOD adds up to 777, e.g. Rom. 8:39, while the ‘agape’ part retains its value of 93. When IN is added (to mean CHRIST), the value changes to 800 x 2 because of the CHRIST influence. When perfection is implied, we find multiples of 70 such as 70 x 7 appearing in passages such as: Psa. 19:7, 1 John 4:18. Note that the Psalms word is in Hebrew, hence Hebrew numbering has to be used.
Light : 1500
Passages that mention LIGHT abound with 150 and its multiples. As in ‘light has come into the world'(John 3:19).
See Rom. 8:39 and Psalm 78:13 where the word ‘separate’ (in Greek) and ‘separated’ (in Hebrew) has the number value of 172. We also see the number 86 and its multiples (172 = 86 x 2) when God is also part of the passage. God (Elohim) has a number value of 86. In New Testament passages that deal with Christ’s trial, the number 172 is seen repeatedly is in THEY DIVIDED MY GARMENTS, WHY HAS THOU FORSAKEN, WAS RENT IN TWO, DARKNESS etc.
Fish, Net: 153
The famous NT passage where this number appears in the plain text is John 21:11. However, this number is encoded in passages that refer to ‘fish’ and ‘net’ as in ‘Fishes’ Luke 9.13 (153 x 8), John 21: 11: ‘The Net’; FISHERS OF MEN in Mark 1:17 has a number value of 153 x 14.
153 is the sum of numbers 1-17, and 17 is the largest prime number in this. We see multiples of 17 also scattered in the Bible text. Note also that 153 = 17 x 9
In Luke 5:6 we read about the disciples casting the net at Jesus’ command. Words and phrases in this text abound with 153 as in AT THY WORD (153 x 8), WORD (153 x 3), MULTITUDE OF FISHES (153 x 8 x 2). In similar passages it could be multiples of 17. In the passage on Loaves and Fishes in the miracle of Jesus, the numbers 153 and 170 are seen again associated with the Loaves and the Fishes.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) : 90 and its multiples
The number 90 and 900 are associated with people, multitude, and angels. The parable of the Prodigal Son abounds with the number 90 as in:
SONS (90 x 12)
THE YOUNGER (90 x 17)
HE CAME TO THE FATHER (90 x 11)
THIS IS THY BROTHER (90 x 33)
THIS THY (90 x 19) BROTHER (90 x 9) WAS DEAD AND IS ALIVE (90 x 9)
‘Theomatics’ is shunned at this time by most Christian scholars who at the same time support ELS described above. My own feeling is that these scholars have not taken the time to examine it, and are making some rash judgments. I have to disagree with Washburn on one or two points. He exalts the number codes above the plain text of the Bible and frowns on the literal interpretation of the Bible. He does not, for example, believe that 144,000 and the millennium (1,000 years) in Revelation as literal. They are just large numbers, he says. He denies the Millennium and is an ‘amellennialist’. So on the one hand he is awed by the divine plan of the Bible, and on the other hand he is unwilling to accept God’s revelations in the plain text of the Bible.
As I have commented on ELS Word Codes, the plain text of the Bible is far more important and revealing than the coded information (if true). The Bible is God’s inspired Word, so we should take God’s Word at its face value. Symbolic passages are easily distinguished, so such passages may be excluded from literal interpretation.
Some Christians equate the number codes to the magical use of numbers which is forbidden in the Bible. I do not see it that way. The truth is that the Bible does attach special significance to certain numbers as we have seen. The consistency of the use of these numbers in all parts of the Bible is one more proof for its divine inspiration.