Bible code

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The Bible code also known as the Torah code, is a purported set of secret messages encoded within the text Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 and describing prophesies and other guidance regarding the future. This hidden code has been described as a method by which specific letters from the text can be selected to reveal an otherwise obscured message. Though Bible codes have been postulated and studied for centuries, the subject has been popularized in modern times by Michael Drosnin's book The Bible Code
The Bible Code (book)
The Bible Code is a best-selling book by Michael Drosnin, first published in 1997. A sequel, The Bible Code II, was published in 2002 and also reached best-seller status....


Many examples have been documented in the past. One cited example is that by taking every 50th letter of the Book of Genesis starting with the first taw
Taw may refer to:* Taw , the twenty-second letter in many Semitic alphabets* Taw , the collection of all cardinal numbers* the shooter marble in a game of marbles* The River Taw in Devon, England* a method to produce white leather...

, the Hebrew word "torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

" is spelled out. The same happens in the Book of Exodus. Modern computers were used to search for similar patterns and more complex variants, and reported in an academic paper in 1994 and later as a book. Drosnin and proponents hold that it is exceedingly unlikely such sequences could arise by chance, while skeptics and opponents hold that such sequences do often arise by chance, as demonstrated on other Hebrew and English texts.


Contemporary discussion and controversy around one specific encryption method became widespread in 1994 when Doron Witztum, Eliyahu Rips
Eliyahu Rips
Eliyahu Rips, also Ilya Rips is a Latvian-born Israeli mathematician known for his research in geometric group theory. He became known to the general public following his coauthoring a paper on the Torah Code....

 and Yoav Rosenberg published a paper, "Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis", in the scientific journal Statistical Science
Statistical Science
Statistical Science is a review journal published by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. The founding editor was Morris H. DeGroot.-External links:*...

. The paper, which was presented by the journal as a "challenging puzzle", presented strong statistical evidence that biographical information about famous rabbis was encoded in the text of the Book of Genesis, centuries before those rabbis lived.

Since then the term "Bible codes" has been popularly used to refer specifically to information encrypted via the ELS method.

Since the Witztum, Rips and Rosenberg (WRR) paper was published, two conflicting schools of thought regarding the "codes" have emerged among proponents. The traditional (WRR) view of the codes is based strictly on their applicability to the Torah, and asserts that any attempt to study the codes outside of this context is invalid. This is based on a belief that the Torah is unique among biblical texts in that it was given directly to mankind (via Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

) in exact letter-by-letter sequence and in the original Hebrew language
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...


Equidistant Letter Sequence method

The primary method by which purportedly meaningful messages have been extracted is the Equidistant Letter Sequence (ELS). To obtain an ELS from a text, choose a starting point (in principle, any letter) and a skip number, also freely and possibly negative. Then, beginning at the starting point, select letters from the text at equal spacing as given by the skip number. For example, the bold letters in this sentence form an ELS. With a skip of -4, and ignoring the spaces and punctuation, the word safest is spelled out.

Often more than one ELS related to some topic can be displayed simultaneously in an ELS letter array. This is produced by writing out the text in a regular grid, with exactly the same number of letters in each line, then cutting out a rectangle. In the example below, part of the King James Version
King James Version of the Bible
The Authorized Version, commonly known as the King James Version, King James Bible or KJV, is an English translation of the Christian Bible by the Church of England begun in 1604 and completed in 1611...

 of Genesis (26:5–10) is shown with 33 letters per line. ELSs for BIBLE and CODE are shown. Normally only a smaller rectangle would be displayed, such as the rectangle drawn in the figure. In that case there would be letters missing between adjacent lines in the picture, but it is essential that the number of missing letters be the same for each line.

Although the above examples are in English texts, Bible codes proponents usually use a Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 Bible text. For religious reasons, most Jewish proponents use only the Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...


ELS extensions

Once a specific word has been found as an ELS, it is natural to see if that word is part of a longer ELS consisting of multiple words. For example, in the middle of the rightmost column of the boxed matrix above is the ELS "he". After searching immediately above and below this ELS, we see another ELS ("toe") that is right below the "he" ELS. Code pioneers Haralick and Rips have published an example of a longer, extended ELS, which reads, "Destruction I will call you; cursed is Bin Laden and revenge is to the Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...


ELS extensions that form phrases or sentences are of interest. Bible code proponents claim that the longer the extended ELS, the less likely it is to be the result of chance.


Jewish culture has a long tradition of interpretation, annotation, and commentary
Jewish commentaries on the Bible
This article describes the first printing of the Hebrew Bible with major Jewish commentaries, notes concerning translations into Aramaic and English, lists some universally accepted Jewish commentaries with notes on their method of approach and lists modern translations into English with notes.-...

 regarding the Bible, leading to both exegesis
Exegesis is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text, and the term "Biblical exegesis" is used...

 and eisegesis
Eisegesis is the process of misinterpreting a text in such a way that it introduces one's own ideas, reading into the text. This is best understood when contrasted with exegesis. While exegesis draws out the meaning from the text, eisegesis occurs when a reader reads his/her interpretation into...

 (insightful and false interpretations). The Bible code can be viewed as a part of this tradition, albeit one of the more controversial parts. Throughout history, many Jewish, and later Christian, scholars have attempted to find hidden or coded messages within the Bible's text, notably including Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...


The 13th-century Spanish Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

 Bachya ben Asher may have been the first to describe an ELS in the Bible. His four-letter example related to the traditional zero-point of the Hebrew calendar
Hebrew calendar
The Hebrew calendar , or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits , and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses...

. Over the following centuries there are some hints that the ELS technique was known, but few definite examples have been found from before the middle of the 20th century. At this point many examples were found by the Slovak Rabbi Michael Ber Weissmandl and published by his students after his death in 1957. Nevertheless, the practice remained known only to a few until the early 1980s, when some discoveries of an Israeli school teacher Avraham Oren came to the attention of the mathematician Eliyahu Rips
Eliyahu Rips
Eliyahu Rips, also Ilya Rips is a Latvian-born Israeli mathematician known for his research in geometric group theory. He became known to the general public following his coauthoring a paper on the Torah Code....

 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Rips then took up the study together with his religious studies partners Doron Witztum and Alexander Rotenberg, and several others.

Rips and Witztum designed computer software for the ELS technique and subsequently found many examples. About 1985, they decided to carry out a formal test, and the "Great rabbis experiment" was born. This experiment tested the hypothesis that ELS's of the names of famous rabbinic personalities and their respective birth and death dates form a more compact arrangement than could be explained by chance. Their definition of "compact" was complex but, roughly, two ELSs were compactly arranged if they can be displayed together in a small window. When Rips et al carried out the experiment, the data was measured and found to be statistically significant, supporting their hypothesis.

The "great rabbis experiment" went through several iterations, and was eventually published in 1994, in the peer-reviewed journal
Peer review
Peer review is a process of self-regulation by a profession or a process of evaluation involving qualified individuals within the relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards, improve performance and provide credibility...

 Statistical Science. Prior to publication, the journal's editor, Robert Kass, subjected the paper to three successive peer reviews by the journal's referees, who according to Kass were "baffled". Though still skeptical, none of the reviewers had found any flaws. Understanding that the paper was certain to generate controversy, it was presented to readers in the context of a "challenging puzzle."

Witztum and Rips also performed other experiments, most of them successful, though none were published in journals. Another experiment, in which the names of the famous rabbis were matched against the places of their births and deaths (rather than the dates), was conducted in 1997 by Harold Gans, former Senior Cryptologic Mathematician for the United States National Security Agency
National Security Agency
The National Security Agency/Central Security Service is a cryptologic intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the collection and analysis of foreign communications and foreign signals intelligence, as well as protecting U.S...

Again, the results were interpreted as being meaningful and thus suggestive of a more than chance result. These Bible codes became known to the public primarily due to the American journalist Michael Drosnin
Michael Drosnin
Michael Drosnin is an American journalist and author, best known for his writings on the Bible code.Drosnin was born in New York City. He worked as a journalist for the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal...

, whose book The Bible Code (Simon and Schuster, 1997) was a best-seller in many countries. Rips issued a public statement that he did not support Drosnin's work or conclusions; even Gans has said that although the book states that the codes in the Torah can be used to predict future events: This is absolutely unfounded. There is no scientific or mathematical basis for such a statement, and the reasoning used to come to such a conclusion in the book is logically flawed. In 2002, Drosnin published a second book on the same subject, called Bible Code II: the Countdown.
The Jewish outreach group Aish-HaTorah employs Bible Codes in their Discovery Seminars to persuade secular Jews of the divinity of the Torah, and to encourage them to trust in its traditional Orthodox teachings. Use of Bible code techniques also spread into certain Christian circles, especially in the United States. The main early proponents were Yakov Rambsel, who is a Messianic Jew
Messianic Judaism
Messianic Judaism is a syncretic religious movement that arose in the 1960s and 70s. It blends evangelical Christian theology with elements of Jewish terminology and ritual....

, and Grant Jeffrey
Grant Jeffrey
Grant R. Jeffrey is a Canadian Bible teacher of Bible prophecy/eschatology and biblical archaeology and a proponent of dispensational evangelical Christianity. As chairman of Frontier Research Publications for more than 20 years, Jeffrey's 25 books have been translated into 24 languages...

. Another Bible code technique was developed in 1997 by Dean Coombs (also Christian). Various pictograms are claimed to be formed by words and sentences using ELS.

Since 2000, physicist Nathan Jacobi, an agnostic Jew, and engineer Moshe Aharon Shak, an orthodox Jew, claim to have discovered hundreds of examples of lengthy, extended ELSs. The number of extended ELSs at different lengths is compared with those expected from a non-encoded text, as determined by a formula from Markov chain
Markov chain
A Markov chain, named after Andrey Markov, is a mathematical system that undergoes transitions from one state to another, between a finite or countable number of possible states. It is a random process characterized as memoryless: the next state depends only on the current state and not on the...



The primary objection advanced against Bible codes is that information theory
Information theory
Information theory is a branch of applied mathematics and electrical engineering involving the quantification of information. Information theory was developed by Claude E. Shannon to find fundamental limits on signal processing operations such as compressing data and on reliably storing and...

 does not prohibit "noise" from appearing to be sometimes meaningful. Thus, if data chosen for ELS experiments are intentionally or unintentionally "cooked" before the experiment is defined, similar patterns can be found in texts other than the Torah. Although the probability of an ELS in a random place being a meaningful word is small, there are so many possible starting points and skip patterns that many such words can be expected to appear, depending on the details chosen for the experiment, and that it is possible to "tune" an ELS experiment to achieve a result which appears to exhibit patterns that overcome the level of noise.

Criticism of the original paper

In 1999, four authors, the Australian mathematician Brendan McKay
Brendan McKay
Brendan Damien McKay is a Professor in the Research School of Computer Science at the Australian National University . He has published extensively in combinatorics....

, the Israeli mathematicians Dror Bar-Natan
Dror Bar-Natan
Dror Bar-Natan is a mathematics professor at the University of Toronto, Canada. His main research interests include knot theory, finite type invariants, and Khovanov homology.-Education:...

 and Gil Kalai
Gil Kalai
Gil Kalai is the Henry and Manya Noskwith Professor of Mathematics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and adjunct professor of mathematics and of computer science at Yale University, and the editor of the Israel Journal of Mathematics.-Biography:...

, and the Israeli psychologist Maya Bar-Hillel (collectively known as "MBBK") published a paper in Statistical Science
Statistical Science
Statistical Science is a review journal published by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. The founding editor was Morris H. DeGroot.-External links:*...

, in which they argue that the case of Witztum, Rips and Rosenberg (WRR) is "fatally defective, indeed that their result merely reflects on the choices made in designing their experiment and collecting the data for it." The MBBK paper was reviewed anonymously by four professional statisticians prior to publication.
In the introduction to the paper, Robert Kass, the Editor of the Journal who previously had described the WRR paper as a "challenging puzzle" wrote that "considering the work of McKay, Bar-Natan, Kalai and Bar-Hillel as a whole it indeed appears, as they conclude, that the puzzle has been solved".

In the MBBK paper, the authors present the following arguments:
  • that because of problems in WRR's test method, the results of WRR's 1994 paper "may reflect (at least to some extent) uninteresting properties of the word list [the appellation-date word pairs] rather than an extraordinary property of Genesis," and that the test method used by WRR has properties that make it "exceptionally susceptible to systematic bias."
  • that WRR had many choices available when selecting the appellations, the dates, and the date forms.
  • that, despite the claims by WRR and S. Z. Havlin that Havlin prepared the appellations independently, the earliest available documents on the experiments do not state that the lists of appellations were prepared by an independent expert. Similarly, the authors quote a 1985 lecture by Eliyahu Rips, in which he describes the appellation selection process as taking "every possible variant that we considered reasonable", and makes no mention of Havlin or an independent expert.
  • that, by adding some appellations and removing some appellations from WRR's list 2, and then repeating the test on the initial 78,064 letters (the length of Genesis) of a Hebrew translation of War and Peace, they achieved a significance level of one in a million. The authors say this shows that "the freedom provided just in the selection of appellations is sufficient to explain the strong result" in WRR's 1994 paper.
  • The authors present a "study of variations", in which they repeated the experiments many times, each time making one or more minimal changes to the test method, the dates, or the date forms. The authors conclude that "only a small fraction of variations made WRR's result stronger and then usually by only a small amount ... we believe that these observations are strong evidence for tuning ... "
  • The authors present experiments they conducted which they say show that some results of experiments by WRR and Harold Gans are "too good to be true." That is, some of the results are statistically improbable even if one accepts that WRR's hypothesis is true. The authors say that these studies "give support to the theory that WRR's experiments were tuned toward an overly idealized result consistent with the common expectations of statistically naïve researchers."
  • The authors present multiple experiments they conducted in which they attempted to replicate WRR's experiments. The authors used an independent expert to prepare the appellations and dates for each of these experiments. The authors report that the results of these attempted replications were negative.
  • that the available evidence indicates that the text of Genesis used by WRR is substantially different from its original form, and that ELSs with large skips (which WRR's experiments rely on) could not survive such changes.

From these observations, MBBK created an alternative hypothesis to explain the "puzzle" of how the codes were discovered. MBBK's claim, in essence, was that the WRR authors had cheated MBBK went on to describe the means by which the cheating might have occurred, and demonstrate the tactic as presumed.

MBBK's refutation was not strictly mathematical in nature, rather it asserted that the WRR authors and contributors had intentionally or unintentionally (a) selected the names and/or dates in advance and (b) designed their experiments to match their selection and thereby achieved their "desired" result. The MBBK paper argued that the ELS experiment is extraordinarily sensitive to very small changes in the spellings of appellations, and that the WRR result "merely reflects on the choices made in designing their experiment and collecting the data for it."

The MBBK paper demonstrated that this "tuning", when combined with what MBBK asserted was available "wiggle" room, was capable of generating a result similar to WRR's Genesis result in a Hebrew translation of War and Peace
War and Peace
War and Peace is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, first published in 1869. The work is epic in scale and is regarded as one of the most important works of world literature...

. Psychologist and MBBK co-author Maya Bar-Hillel subsequently summarized the MBBK view that the WRR paper was a hoax, an intentionally and a carefully designed "magic trick".

The Bible codes (together with similar arguments concerning hidden prophecies in the writings of Shakespeare) have been quoted as examples of the Texas sharpshooter fallacy
Texas sharpshooter fallacy
The Texas sharpshooter fallacy is a logical fallacy in which pieces of information that have no relationship to one another are called out for their similarities, and that similarity is used for claiming the existence of a pattern. This fallacy is the philosophical/rhetorical application of the...


Replies to MBBK's criticisms

Harold Gans has argued that MBBK's hypothesis implies a conspiracy between WRR and their co-contributors to fraudulently tune the appellations in advance. Gans argues that the conspiracy must include Doron Witztum, Eliyahu Rips, and S. Z. Havlin, because all of them say that Havlin compiled the appellations independently. Gans argues further that such a conspiracy must include the multiple rabbis who have written a letter confirming the accuracy of Havlin's list. Finally, argues Gans, such a conspiracy must also include the multiple participants of the cities experiment conducted by Gans (which includes Gans himself). Gans concludes that "the number of people necessarily involved in [the conspiracy] will stretch the credulity of any reasonable person."

Brendan McKay has replied that he and his colleagues have never accused Havlin or Gans of participating in a conspiracy. Instead, says McKay, Havlin likely did what WRR's early preprints said he did: he provided "valuable advices". Similarly, McKay accepts Gans' statements that Gans did not prepare the data for his cities experiment himself. McKay concludes that "there is only ONE person who needs to have been involved in knowing fakery, and a handful of his disciples who must be involved in the cover-up (perhaps with good intent)."

The WRR authors issued a series of responses regarding of the claims of MBBK, including the claim that no such tuning did or even could have taken place. An earlier WRR response to a request by MBBK authors presented results from additional experiments that used the specific "alternate" name and date formats which MBBK suggested had been intentionally avoided by WRR. Using MBBK's alternates, the results WRR returned showed equivalent or better support for the existence of the codes, and so challenged the "wiggle room" assertion of MBBK. In the wake of the WRR response, author Bar-Natan issued a formal statement of non-response. After a series of exchanges with McKay and Bar-Hillel, WRR author Witztum responded in a new paper claiming that McKay had used smoke screen tactics in creating several straw man
Straw man
A straw man is a component of an argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position, twisting his words or by means of [false] assumptions...

 arguments, and thereby avoided the points made by WRR authors refuting MBBK. Witztum also claimed that, upon interviewing a key independent expert contracted by McKay for the MBBK paper, that some experiments performed for MBBK had validated, rather than refuted the original WRR findings, and questioned why MBBK had expunged these results from their paper.
McKay replied to these claims.

No publication in a peer reviewed scientific journal has appeared refuting MBBK's paper. In 2006, three new Torah Codes papers were published at the 18th International Conference on Pattern Recognition (ICPR'06). Each of the three works was supported by Yuri Pikover,
founder of the company Xylan (acquired in 1999 by Alcatel
Alcatel Mobile Phones is a brand of mobile handsets. It was established in 2004 as a joint venture between Alcatel-Lucent of France and TCL Communication of China....


Robert Aumann
Robert Aumann
Robert John Aumann is an Israeli-American mathematician and a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences. He is a professor at the Center for the Study of Rationality in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel...

, a notable game theorist
Game theory
Game theory is a mathematical method for analyzing calculated circumstances, such as in games, where a person’s success is based upon the choices of others...

 and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2005, has followed the Bible Code research and controversy for many years. He wrote: "Though the basic thesis of the research seems wildly improbable, for many years I thought that an ironclad case had been made for the codes; I did not see how 'cheating' could have been possible. Then came the work of the 'opponents' (see, for example, McKay, Bar-Natan, Bar-Hillel and Kalai, Statistical Science 14 (1999), 149–173). Though this work did not convince me that the data had been manipulated, it did convince me that it could have been; that manipulation was technically possible. "After a long and interesting analysis of the experiment and the dynamics of the controversy, stating for example that "almost everybody included [in the controversy] made up their mind early in the game" Aumann concluded:

"A priori, the thesis of the Codes research seems wildly improbable... Research conducted under my own supervision failed to confirm the existence of the codes - though it also did not establish their non-existence. So I must return to my a priori estimate, that the Codes phenomenon is improbable".

Criticism of Michael Drosnin

Journalist Drosnin's books have been criticized by some who believe that the Bible Code is real but that it cannot predict the future.
On Drosnin's claim of Rabin death, Drosnin wrote in his book "The Bible Code" (published in 1997) on page 120; "Yigal Amir could not be found in advance". This is very telling in that dangerous period of Israeli politics from the Oslo Accords of 1993 to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin on November 4, 1995. Critics have noted a huge error in the "code" Drosnin claimed to have found, they note Drosnin used the Biblical verse Deuteronomy 4:42. Scholars note; "For example, citing again the passage intersecting with Rabin: that passage is from Deuteronomy 4:42, but Drosnin ignores the words immediately following "a murderer who will murder." What comes next is the phrase "unwittingly" (biveli da'at). This is because the verse deals with the cities of refuge where accidental killers can find asylum. In this case, then, the message would refer to an accidental killing of (or by) Rabin and it would therefore be wrong. Another message (p. 71) supposedly contains a "complete" description of the terrorist bombing of a bus in Jerusalem on February 25, 1996. It includes the phrase "fire, great noise," but overlooks the fact that the letters which make up those two words are actually part of a larger phrase from Genesis 35:4 which says: "under the terebinth that was near Shechem." If the phrase does tell of a bus bombing, why not take it to indicate that it would be in Nablus, the site of ancient Shechem?"

Drosnin also made a number of claims and alleged predictions that have since failed. Among the most important, Drosnin clearly states in his book "The Bible Code II", published on December 2, 2002, that there was to be a World War involving a "Atomic Holocaust" that would allegedly be the end of the world. Another claim Drosnin makes in "The Bible Code II" is that the nation of Libya would develop weapons of mass destruction that they would then be given to terrorists who would then use them to attack the West (specifically the United States). In reality Libya improved relations with the West in 2003 and gave up all their existing weapons of mass destruction programs. A final claim Drosnin made in "The Bible Code II" was that Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat would allegedly be assassinated by being shot to death by gunmen which Drosnin specifically stated would be from the Palestinian Hamas movement. This prediction by Drosnin also failed, as Yasser Arafat died on November 11, 2004 of what was later declared to be natural causes (specifically a stroke brought on by an unknown infection). The only conspiracy theories about Yasser Arafat allegedly being murdered have been made by a few Palestinian figures, and have involved alleged poisoning that was supposed to have been on the orders of Israeli officials. The only alleged Palestinian collaboration in this conspiracy theory involve two leading Palestinian figures from the Palestinian Fatah movement; those are current Palestinian Authority and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas and Mohammed Dahlan the former head of Fatah in Gaza. Writer Randy Ingermanson criticized Drosnin by stating that; "And that's all they are, even for Drosnin -- possibilities. He believes that the future is not fixed, and that the Bible code predicts all possible outcomes. Which makes it not much of a predictive tool, but again, he seems not to mind this very much. If you are laying bets based on Drosnin, you had better be willing to bet on all possible outcomes."

Some accuse him of factual errors, claiming that he has much support in the scientific community, mistranslating Hebrew words to make his point more convincing, and using the Bible without proving that other books do not have similar codes.

Responding to an explicit challenge from Drosnin, who claimed that other texts such as Moby-Dick
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, was written by American author Herman Melville and first published in 1851. It is considered by some to be a Great American Novel and a treasure of world literature. The story tells the adventures of wandering sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod,...

would not yield ELS results comparable to the Torah, McKay created a new experiment that was tuned to find many ELS letter arrays in Moby-Dick that relate to modern events, including the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. He also found a code relating to the Rabin assassination, containing the assassin's first and last name and the university he attended, as well as the motive ("Oslo", relating to the Oslo accords
Oslo Accords
The Oslo Accords, officially called the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements or Declaration of Principles , was an attempt to resolve the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict...

). Drosnin and others have responded to these claims, saying the tuning tactics employed by McKay were simply "nonsense", and providing analyses to support their argument that the tables, data and methodologies McKay used to produce the Moby Dick results "simply do not qualify as code tables".

Skeptic Dave Thomas
Dave Thomas (physicist)
Dave Thomas is a physicist and mathematician, mostly known for his writings and research on the paranormal .Thomas is a graduate of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and...

 claimed to find other examples in many texts. While Thomas' methodology was alleged to have been refuted by Robert Haralick
Robert Haralick
Robert M. Haralick was born in Brooklyn, New York, on September 30, 1943.-Academia:Haralick received a B.A. degree in mathematics from the University of Kansas in 1964, a B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1966, and a M.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1967. In 1969, after completing...

 and others, Thomas's criticisms were aimed at Drosnin, whose methodology was actually far worse. (In fact, Drosnin's example of "Clinton" in his first book violated the basic Bible Code concept of "Minimality"; Drosnin's "Clinton" was a completely invalid "code"). In addition, McKay claimed that Drosnin had used the flexibility of Hebrew orthography
The orthography of a language specifies a standardized way of using a specific writing system to write the language. Where more than one writing system is used for a language, for example Kurdish, Uyghur, Serbian or Inuktitut, there can be more than one orthography...

 to his advantage, freely mixing classic (no vowels, Y and W strictly consonant) and modern (Y and W used to indicate i and u vowels) modes, as well as variances in spelling of K and T, to reach the desired meaning. In his television series John Safran vs God
John Safran vs God
John Safran vs God is an 8 part television documentary series by John Safran which was broadcast on SBS TV of Australia in 2004. It has been described in a media release as "John Safran's most audacious project yet". It had a much more serious tone than Safran's previous work Music Jamboree...

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n television personality John Safran
John Safran
John Safran is an Australian documentary maker and radio broadcaster, known for combining humour with explorations into religion and other issues...

 and McKay again demonstrated the "tuning" technique, demonstrating that these techniques could produce "evidence" of the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 in the lyrics of Vanilla Ice
Vanilla Ice
Robert Matthew Van Winkle , best known by his stage name Vanilla Ice, is an American rapper, extreme athlete and home improvement television personality...

's repertoire. Additionally, "coded" references in non-Torah Bible texts, as for instance the famous Number of the Beast
Number of the Beast
The Number of the Beast is a term in the Book of Revelation, of the New Testament, that is associated with the first Beast of Revelation chapter 13, the Beast of the sea. In most manuscripts of the New Testament and in English translations of the Bible, the number of the Beast is...

, do not use the Bible code technique. And, the influence and consequences of scribal errors (e.g., misspellings, additions, deletions, misreadings, ...) are hard to account for in the context of a Bible coded message left secretly in the text. McKay and others claim that in the absence of an objective measure of quality and an objective way to select test subjects, it is not possible to positively determine whether any particular observation is significant or not. For that reason, most of the serious effort of the skeptics has been focused on the scientific claims of Witztum, Rips and Gans.

Other types of Bible codes

Another example of an alleged prediction coded in the text of the Bible, which is also attributed to Rabbi Chaim Michael Dov Weissmandl
Chaim Michael Dov Weissmandl
Chaim Michael Dov Weissmandl was a rabbi and shtadlan...

 (who was mentioned above), concerns the hanging of 10 Nazi leaders on 16 October 1946 following the Nuremberg Trials
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

. Rabbi Weissmandl claimed that this event was predicted by the Biblical story about the hanging of the 10 sons of Haman
Haman can be a surname which is a corruption of the German Hamann. It is also a biblical surname as described below. It also refers to:*Haman , appears in the Book of Esther and is the main antagonist in the Jewish holiday of Purim....

, also as a final consequence of a (failed) genocidal plan against the Jews. The "coded" aspect of his speculation is that in the Masoretic text
Masoretic Text
The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible and is regarded as Judaism's official version of the Tanakh. While the Masoretic Text defines the books of the Jewish canon, it also defines the precise letter-text of these biblical books, with their vocalization and...

 of the Bible, three letters within the list of Haman's sons are marked as small letters: the tav of Parshandatha, the shin of Parmashtha and the zayin of Vajezatha. Rabbi Weissmandl pointed out that if you combine the three small letters together they form the word , which in the accepted Hebrew notation for year numbers (using Gimatria) corresponds to the Jewish year [5]707 Anno Mundi
Anno Mundi
' , abbreviated as AM or A.M., refers to a Calendar era based on the Biblical creation of the world. Numerous efforts have been made to determine the Biblical date of Creation, yielding varying results. Besides differences in interpretation, which version of the Bible is being referenced also...

, which is the Jewish year that the 10 Nazi leaders were executed (October 16, 1946 corresponds to Tishrei 21, 5707). Many people criticize various aspects of this speculation.. They point out that there are several different traditions about what are the small letters in the names of Haman's sons. Also they point out that the proponents only mention the similarities between the cases, but ignore the many differences. More in general they point out that this is not exactly an a priori prediction, but rather a postdiction
According to critics of paranormal beliefs, postdiction is an effect of hindsight bias that explains claimed predictions of significant events, such as plane crashes and natural disasters...

, and therefore the statistical significance of it, if there is any at all, cannot be reliably calculated.

See also

  • Bibliomancy
    Bibliomancy is the use of books in divination. The method of employing sacred books for 'magical medicine', for removing negative entities, or for divination is widespread in many religions of the world:-Terminology:...

  • Confirmation bias
    Confirmation bias
    Confirmation bias is a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true.David Perkins, a geneticist, coined the term "myside bias" referring to a preference for "my" side of an issue...

  • Ergodic theory
    Ergodic theory
    Ergodic theory is a branch of mathematics that studies dynamical systems with an invariant measure and related problems. Its initial development was motivated by problems of statistical physics....

    , which forms the foundation for modern information theory
  • Gematria
    Gematria or gimatria is a system of assigning numerical value to a word or phrase, in the belief that words or phrases with identical numerical values bear some relation to each other, or bear some relation to the number itself as it may apply to a person's age, the calendar year, or the like...

  • Pi (film)
    Pi (film)
    Pi, also titled ,WorldCat gives the title as [Pi] and provides a note which states, "Title is the mathematical symbol for Pi." . Amazon gives the title as Pi with no notation concerning the math symbol . is a 1998 American psychological thriller film written and directed by Darren Aronofsky...

  • Quran Code
    Quran Code
    The Quran code is a series of numerical patterns claimed to exist in the text of the Quran, mostly using the number 19 as a common denominator...

  • Ramsey theory
    Ramsey theory
    Ramsey theory, named after the British mathematician and philosopher Frank P. Ramsey, is a branch of mathematics that studies the conditions under which order must appear...

    , for an interesting and important notion of "unavoidable coincidences"
  • Shemhamphorasch
    The Shemhamphorasch is a corruption of the Hebrew term , which was used in tannaitic times to refer to the Tetragrammaton. In early Kabbalah the term was used to designate sometimes a seventy-two Letter name for God, and sometimes a forty two Letter name...

  • Theomatics
    Theomatics is a numerological study of the Greek and Hebrew text of the Christian Bible, based upon gematria and isopsephia, that its proponents assert demonstrates the direct intervention of God in the writing of Christian scripture.- Etymology :...

  • Ulam spiral
    Ulam spiral
    The Ulam spiral, or prime spiral is a simple method of visualizing the prime numbers that reveals the apparent tendency of certain quadratic polynomials to generate unusually large numbers of primes...

External links

  • The Bible Code: Enigmas for Dummies The Bible Code: Enigmas for Dummies
  • The Bible Code, transcript of a story which aired on BBC Two, Thursday 20 November 2003, featuring comments by Drosnin, Rips, and McKay.
  • Doron Witztum's codes page from Doron Witzum, a coauthor of the Statistical Sciences paper
  • Tutorial Website from Professor Robert Haralick
    Robert Haralick
    Robert M. Haralick was born in Brooklyn, New York, on September 30, 1943.-Academia:Haralick received a B.A. degree in mathematics from the University of Kansas in 1964, a B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1966, and a M.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1967. In 1969, after completing...

  • "Scientific Refutation of the Bible Codes" by Brendan McKay
    Brendan McKay
    Brendan Damien McKay is a Professor in the Research School of Computer Science at the Australian National University . He has published extensively in combinatorics....

     (Computer Science, Australian National University
    Australian National University
    The Australian National University is a teaching and research university located in the Australian capital, Canberra.As of 2009, the ANU employs 3,945 administrative staff who teach approximately 10,000 undergraduates, and 7,500 postgraduate students...

    ) and others
  • The Bible Code: A Book Review by Allyn Jackson, plus Comments on the Bible Code by Shlomo Sternberg
    Shlomo Sternberg
    Shlomo Zvi Sternberg is a leading mathematician, known for his work in geometry, particularly symplectic geometry and the differential geometry of G-structures....

    , Notices of the AMS September 1997 (see the American Mathematical Society
    American Mathematical Society
    The American Mathematical Society is an association of professional mathematicians dedicated to the interests of mathematical research and scholarship, which it does with various publications and conferences as well as annual monetary awards and prizes to mathematicians.The society is one of the...

  • The Bible "Codes": a Textual Perspective, by Jeffrey H. Tigay (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania
    University of Pennsylvania
    The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

  • Madness in the Method, by Maya Bar-Hillel and Avishai Margalit
    Avishai Margalit
    Avishai Margalit is the George F. Kennan Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and Professor Emeritus in Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.-Biography:Avishai Margalit grew up in Jerusalem. He was educated in Jerusalem and did his army service in the airborne...

    , Chance, Dartmouth College
  • Hidden Messages and The Bible Code from Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, publisher of Skeptical Inquirer
    Skeptical Inquirer
    The Skeptical Inquirer is a bimonthly American magazine published by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry with the subtitle: The magazine for science and reason....

  • Trying to stay objective, by Remy Wilders (Computer Science, France)