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Questions and Answers About the Bible Codes

In the past three years several books have claimed that codes about 20th century
people and events were intentionally embedded in the Hebrew Bible when it was written
over 2,000 years ago. The best known books are The Bible Code (Michael Drosnin),
Cracking the Bible Code (Jeffrey Satinover, M.D.) and The Signature of God, The
Handwriting of God and The Mysterious Bible Codes (all by Grant Jeffrey). These
authors are, respectively, an atheist, a Jew and a Christian. Each author attempts to use
the codes to support their perspective. This naturally causes the intelligent reader to
wonder if the evidence of the codes is so flexible that it could be cited as evidence for
whatever belief one chose to espouse.

These books have caused a wave of controversy and resulted in sharply divided
views on the validity of their claims. This article provides definitive answers to several
key questions about this issue from a practicing statistician with 26 years of experience.
Clear exception is taken to many of the opinions and findings of each of these recent
authors.

Q: What is a “code”?
A: Suppose we start with the sentence, “All of our avenues are wide.” We eliminate the
spaces and look for words that could be formed from letters that are equally spaced
within the letter string. If we start with the second letter (L) and then skip 3 letters to
pick up the next letter of the code (O), and so forth, we will find the word, LOVE within
the string: a L l o f O u r a V e n u E s. LOVE is an equidistant letter sequence (ELS).
Such codes can have a skip of any length and can either be forward or backward.

Q: What kinds of criticisms have these books received?


A: Many intellectuals and scientists have attacked these claims as bogus, stating that you
can find anything you want as a code and that other books must also contain similar
codes. On the other hand, both conservative Christians and Jews have expressed
concerns that their beliefs (which are based on the literal text) may be challenged by
findings that some might draw from the codes.

Q: Can you find anything as a code?


A: Yes and no. What makes the difference is how long the code is. If the code consists
of 6 or fewer letters, it is almost certain that it will appear somewhere in the Torah by
chance. If the code has 8 or more letters it is very unlikely that anyone will be able to
find it as a code. And the longer it is, the more unlikely it will be that you will be able to
find it.

Q: Are codes with odds of a chance of 1 in 1000 beyond chance?


A: Generally not. The odds need to be much smaller than that. First of all, to date the
most popular authors have been very unscientific in their research. They have only
reported their successes and not their failures. If you look for a 1,000 different things,
each of which has a 1 in 1,000 chance of occurring, you will probably find one or more
such things. Second, there are no real vowels in Hebrew, so this makes it possible for a

Copyright 1999 The Bible Code Critic


few given letters to represent several possible words. Third, if the word is a
contemporary person or thing, there may be many possible ways to spell it.

Q: How small should the odds be before we should conclude that some group of codes is
beyond chance?
A: At least 1 in 100,000 or 1 in 1 million. If the odds are less than 1 in 1,000 or 10,000,
then the code may be viewed as “intriguing.”

Q: How valid are the claims made in Drosnin’s and Jeffrey’s books?
A: Both books present examples that run the gamut from those that are very likely to
occur by chance to ones that are extremely improbable. Unfortunately, neither author
makes these critical distinctions.

Q: Is it true that no codes have yet been found that are beyond chance?
A: No. Many clusters of codes have been discovered that have odds that are smaller than
1 in 1 billion. In my opinion, such discoveries are statistically very significant and
deserve further consideration as “intentional” codes.

Q: What characteristics make given codes more or less likely to appear by chance?

A: First, there are one or more lengthy codes (8 or more letters). Second, there needs to
be a cluster—several codes of related words that are close together. Closeness is
generally critical because it greatly shrinks down the span of text within which a code can
appear. This significantly reduces the probability of a chance occurrence. Third, the
shorter the skips between the successive letters of a code, the more unlikely each code is
to occur.

Q: Can such codes be used to predict the future? Why or why not?
A: No. Because the source data of Hebrew letters does not include vowels or syntax
markings, it is basically impossible to take specific findings and come up with a
definitive interpretation of what they mean. For example, suppose you find the codes for
Kennedy and assassinated. Without a means of accurate interpretation, this could mean
that Kennedy was assassinated or that a man named Kennedy assassinated someone or
that Kennedy was not assassinated. Second, while Drosnin cites many examples of codes
for specific years as possible times of future events, each of these codes only consist of 4
or 5 letters and these codes appear numerous times in almost any section of text. Thus
year codes are basically meaningless.

Q: How have you gone about calculating the odds that a group of codes could appear by
chance?
A: While there are several steps in our calculations, almost every step is based on high
school algebra and/or a bit of basic probability theory. There are a couple of instances
where we had to resort to using college level mathematics. In these steps we precisely
take into account the expected number of times that each code should appear (by chance)
within the entire text and how close the codes are to one another. Taken as a whole, all

Copyright 1999 The Bible Code Critic


of the calculations that are made would be viewed as complex, but each step is relatively
simple.

Q: Are there secret messages or esoteric knowledge in the codes?


A: Nothing of that kind has been discovered to date.

Q: Do the codes have anything to do with Biblical numerology or the Kaballah?


A: Some people with those perspectives are intrigued by the codes. However, the codes
are made of letters, not numbers. Admittedly, numerologists have ways of finding
numbers in everything. However, numbers really only come into play in calculating the
odds of a chance appearance.

Q: Have any significant codes been found in the New Testament?


A: Jeffrey presents a few codes he has found in the Greek but none of these are
significant. This does not imply that significant codes won’t be found at some future
date. At this point the search for New Testament codes is at an embryonic stage. Vastly
more research has been done on the Old Testament—largely because a segment of
Judaism has long been fascinated with various numerological properties of that text.

Q: If an author presents clearly coincidental codes as improbable ones, should we


dismiss everything the author presents?
A: Of course not. Codes either exist or they don’t, in a cold, hard, factual way. Whether
or not the person who discovers them has the math skills to distinguish between likely
and unlikely codes has nothing to do with whether any codes they present are improbable
or not.

Q: Does the existence of some utterly improbable code clusters prove anything?
A: They scientifically substantiate that the author(s) of the Bible (or some source
inspiring those authors) knew current events at the times the portions of the Hebrew Bible
that contain the codes were written. That is a very revolutionary finding that should
challenge every open minded scientist and intellectual who does not believe in the
miraculous.

Q: Should we only consider the occurrences of a code that are the ones with the smallest
skips?
A: Some writers on the subject have advocated such a restriction, but it is not necessary.
To be sure, if a code is the one in the entire text with the smallest skip, that makes it more
improbable than just any appearance of the code. Since it is possible to calculate the
odds in those cases where the code isn’t the one with the smallest skip, consideration of
such occurrences is acceptable.

Q: Bottom line, are the codes real?


A: Taken as a whole, the odds that nearly all of the codes discovered to date are
coincidental is so astronomically small that the human mind cannot begin to comprehend
it. In this sense, the evidence is conclusive that at least some of the codes must have been

Copyright 1999 The Bible Code Critic


intentional. As to whether any particular code or cluster was intentional, we can only
calculate the odds and arrive at our own conclusions.

Q: Are there other mathematicians who believe the codes are real?
A: Yes. They include math professors at Harvard (Kazhdan & Bernstein), Yale
(Piatetski-Shapiro), Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Rips & Furstenberg) and UCLA
(Michelson).

Q: Where could I get more information about the codes?


A: I suggest reading Dr. Jeffrey Satinover’s book, Cracking the Bible Code. Dr.
Satinover’s scholarship is quite respectable and his book is an informative presentation of
a Jewish perspective on the codes. Further information is available on our web site
(www.biblecodecritic.com) or other sites that can be readily located by searching for the
key word, Bible code.

Q: What concerns do you have about common opinions people have today about the
Bible codes?
A: On the one hand, some people are getting excited about meaningless noise. At the
other extreme, some are dismissing the whole thing out of the incorrect belief that you
can find anything as a code. Third, because popular authors have taken an unscientific
approach and generally lack the necessary math skills, their writings may lead many to
dismiss the entire phenomenon as an illusion. In short, misconceptions are the norm and
solid knowledge is in short supply.

Copyright 1999 The Bible Code Critic


A Condensed Version of the Report,
THE ASTONISHING “Y2K” CODES CLUSTER

(Full Report is 4 1/2 Times Longer)


This report presents a series of astonishing findings that ostensibly relate to the
most widely anticipated dreaded event of recent times: Y2K. These findings consist of
over 100 codes which could easily be about this event, all drawn from a fairly short
passage. Curiously, this passage is one of the most unusual ones in the Bible.

General Precautions

In considering the discussion of various codes that have been found within the
second half of Numbers 7, the following caveats should always be kept in mind:
• Any Given Code Could Be Coincidental. AS OF THE TIME OF THIS
DRAFT, WE HAVE NOT COMPLETED OUR EVALUATIONS OF EACH
CODE REGARDING THE ODDS THAT THEIR APPEARANCE COULD BE
COINCIDENTAL. WE ARE IN THE PROCESS OF ADDING THIS
INFORMATION TO A SUBSEQUENT DRAFT OF THIS REPORT.
• Adjacent Codes Could Be About Different Events.
• Grammatic Difficulties in Accurately Interpreting Any Code or Phrase.
• How Can We Be Sure We Have the Whole Message?
• The Very Process of Selecting Possible Words to Search for is Inherently
Subjective.

Because of the above considerations, it should be evident that it will probably


never be possible to use Bible codes to make accurate predictions about the future.
Nevertheless, our natural human curiosity compels us to attempt to catch glimpses of the
future, even if they are at best only unreliable, haphazard glances that could be totally
misleading!

A Summary of Our Findings

What is astonishing is that the brief research we have conducted has located over
100 codes that are potentially related to various scenarios that have been suggested for
Y2K. While diligence might result in coming up with a few codes about any one of
many different topics from almost any text, it is extremely unlikely that so many
apparently related codes would appear within only one half of one chapter of the Hebrew
Bible. In many instances, these codes either do not appear anywhere else in the Hebrew
Bible with as short a skip or those places they do occur have skips which are not much
smaller than those of the occurrence which crosses Numbers 7. There is a kind of intense
non-randomness to these codes that is extremely unusual.
To date we have located 112 codes that could be about the turn of the millenium.
The following list indicates how many of these codes fall into different categories:
4 Y2K Identifier Codes

Copyright 1999 The Bible Code Critic


13 Hoarding Codes
15 Computers/Microchip Codes
20 Disruption Codes
3 Bank Codes
10 Government Codes
1 Conspiracy Code
3 Press Codes
16 Power Codes
15 Solar Codes
6 Earthquake Codes
6 “The Days Are Evil” Codes

Before proceeding with descriptions of each individual code, some background


about our methods of research and some very unusual characteristics of Numbers 7 may
be helpful.

Methods of Research

Our research proceeded along each of the following lines:


• Phrase Searches.
• Searches for New Words.
• Phrase Searches Around New Words
• Unexpectedly High Frequency of Occurrence Searches.

Our search for the word “solar” was prompted by an article written by Paul Recer
carried by Associated Press in the June 1, 1999 issue of many newspapers nationwide
about predictions of peak solar disturbances causing enormous magnetic pulses to reach
earth, we started looking for codes that could relate to this. The thing that was of interest
about this article was that scientists are predicting that such solar disturbances will reach
their peak during the first three months of the year 2000. The article noted that sun spot
activity goes through 11 year cycles and that the last cycle was marked by power outages
in New Jersey and Quebec in 1989 that were caused by these solar disturbances.
Electromagnetic energy bursts from the sun can cause great surges along power lines,
shorting circuits and burning out equipment. It also noted that such solar storms can
block radio and cell phone communications. Furthermore, they could set off command
errors that could cause satellites to depart from their orbits and wreak havoc with the
global positioning system. Because of this article we also searched for (and located)
various words that could be associated with these possible events.

Some Unusual Characteristics of Numbers 7


A question often asked by those with orthodox Jewish or Christian beliefs is
whether or not the codes in a cluster have any particular relationship to the subject matter
of the explicit passage in which they are embedded. In some instances, the answer is
apparently “yes” and for other clusters there is no evident linkage.

Copyright 1999 The Bible Code Critic


The codes cited on the web site, www.thebiblecodes.com, all appear in verses 56
through 71 of the seventh chapter of the book of Numbers. They all cross a small
section of text which is only 605 letters long (0.198% of the Torah) stretching from the
200,812th letter to the 201,416th letter of the Torah. In the course of our research work,
we noted that many more potential Y2K codes crossed the selected section of text when
that section was expanded to range from the 40th to the 89th verses of the same seventh
chapter of the book of Numbers. In either case, there is no evident linkage between the
subject of the passage and the codes themselves.
It is interesting to note, however, that the 7th chapter of Numbers has a few very
unusual characteristics relative not only to the Torah, but also the entire Hebrew Bible.
Although we haven’t thoroughly verified this, this passage has what is perhaps the
longest section of text that is repeated the most times of any passage in the Hebrew Bible.
The repeated section of text is 4 ¾ verses long and it appears twelve times within
Numbers 7, always separated by 1¼ verses. To the typical reader of this chapter, this
makes Numbers 7 one of the most boring chapters in the Bible. It is also one of those
passages that could make even the most faithful of Christians doubt the validity of
II Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking,
correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly
equipped for every good work.” (New International Version) Of what usefulness, we
may ask, is the section of text that is 4 ¾ verses long that is repeated, letter for letter,
twelve times? This degree of repetition would seem to be quite overdone. If someone
wanted to put people in the pews to sleep, Numbers 7 would probably be the passage of
choice for the rabbi or pastor.
Of the 89 verses in Numbers 7, the following groups of five verses each contain
the repeated passage:

13-17 31-35 49-53 67-71


19-23 37-41 55-59 73-77
25-29 43-47 61-65 79-83

The one quarter of a verse that is not repeated is the end of the last verse in each
of the above groups of verses. For example, for the first group, it is the end of the 17th
verse that differs from the comparable verses for the other 11 groups.
There is another perspective on the degree of repetitiveness in Numbers 7.
Various Bible scholars have commented that a common practice in Biblical times was
that when an author wanted to add emphasis to what they were saying, they would repeat
it. Thus, Jesus’s preface of “Verily, verily,” to his, “I say unto you…” was intended to
underscore the importance of what he was about to say—more so than if he had only
started with one “Verily,” or “Truly,” as it is often rendered in some more modern
translations. If this is true, and if the Numbers 7 codes are intentional, then we may ask
what was so important that it had to be repeated 12 times? Let’s look at an English
translation of these 4 ¾ verses that have been repeated:

His offering was one silver dish, the weight thereof was a hundred and
thirty shekels, one silver basin of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the
sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meal-

Copyright 1999 The Bible Code Critic


offering; one golden pan of ten shekels, full of incense; one young
bullock, one ram, one he-lamb of the first year, for a burnt-offering; one
male of the goats for a sin-offering; and for the sacrifice of peace-
offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, five he-lambs of the first
year. This was the offering of….
[The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic
Text, The Jewish Publication Society of America]

To the modern mind these 4 ¾ verses would not appear to have any religious
significance that might be considered to be greater than any other selected topic. If this is
a correct conclusion, then we may again ask, what was so important that it had to be
repeated 12 times? One ostensible reason for the 12 occurrences is that each represents
the specific sacrifices of a leader of one of each of the 12 tribes of Israel. Nevertheless,
this wouldn’t seem to justify repeating the same lengthy group of words describing the
same identical sacrifices 12 times. This would suggest that there might be some
undisclosed or hidden purpose. This is further suggested by the fact that Numbers 7 is
the longest narrative chapter in the Hebrew Bible. [Note: the longest chapter is the poetry
of Psalm 119.] If the above passage were only presented once, and then it was stated that
the exact same sacrifices were offered by each of the leaders of the other 11 tribes of
Israel, then Numbers 7 would only be about 35 verses long, instead of 89 verses.
Suppose there were certain ELSs that were entirely contained in each repeated
section? Their inclusion within each repeated section could perhaps carry with it some
special significance.
This begs the question of what codes have been found to date that are each
entirely contained within every repeated section in Numbers 7? So far the following
codes have been located:
• Y2K.
• The Hebrew year for 2000, which is 5760.
• Alarm
• Malfunction
• Conspiracy
• 11 additional codes.

In summary, the above 16 codes appear in the exact same way in each of the 12
repetitions of the same text describing the sacrifices offered by each of the 12 tribes of
Israel. Most of them appear very close together in the sense that they either share one
common letter or they miss one another by only one letter.

Detailed Description of Codes by Type


In the following section we have provided a listing of each of the codes we have
located, together with the Hebrew letters of which they are comprised and the size of skip
between the successive letters….

Copyright 1999 The Bible Code Critic


Codes Not Found
The following is a listing of those codes that were searched for and not found
crossing the last half of the 7th chapter of the book of Numbers. They have been
categorized in the same way as those codes that were located….

It may be worth noting that most of the codes that we were unable to locate were
fairly lengthy, and thus were likely not to appear anywhere in the Torah.

Further Research

In researching this cluster of codes, we noted that the characteristics of many of


them were such that it was highly unlikely that they would cross the last half of Numbers
7. We also noted that some of them were codes with only three or four letters which
would have a fair probability of coincidentally crossing any section of text that was 2,340
letters long, as the 40th through 89th verses of Numbers 7 is. We are in the process of
calculating the odds that each code presented in this chapter could coincidentally cross
either the repeated passage or the entire last half of Numbers 7. The results of this work
will be posted in a new chapter for technical readers and this chapter will be revised to
show those probabilities and to modify the text accordingly. We may, for example,
choose to eliminate various codes because they are very likely to be coincidental.

The last two sections of this report address questions about what all of these codes
might portend and what we have learned from them.

Copyright 1999 The Bible Code Critic

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