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- 1958 Rabbi Weissmandel noticed that selecting sequences of equally spaced letters produced certain words or phrases. He named this "equidistant letter sequences" or ELS.
- 1988 Doron Witztum, Eliyahu Rips, and Yoav Rosenberg of the Jerusalem College of Technology and the Hebrew University had their paper entitled "Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis" published in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society.
- 1994 A subsequent paper was published by them in Statistical Science entitled "Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis." They found that some word pairs were predictive (Bible Review October 1995, pp. 28-31).
- 1997 The Bible Code by Michael Drosnin a former Wall Street Journal and Washington Post reporter, is published by Simon & Schuster. It has hit the best sellers lists. He finds predictions for the assassinations of Rabin, Sadat, and Kennedy.
- Number of other books have been published about Bible Codes like The Signature of God by Grant Jeffery.
- There are several major problems with Bible Codes. First of all, any large book with at least a half million words will have codes in it. The Koran also has amazing codes in it. The book Moby Dick has amazing prophecies in it (Bible Review 13:4 (August 1997), 25). Are these also inspired by God? The phrase "there is no God" occurs 5 times in the Torah in Bible code as well as the phrase "God is dead" ( See God is False? 'codes'). Would God put messages like this in the Bible using Bible codes?
- Secondly, the purpose of the Bible is to reveal not to conceal. The Bible is not a magic book with secret formulas like the Book of the Dead.
- Thirdly, the textus receptus was only the standard text in the 16th century after the invention of the printing press. This is an eclectic edition from various manuscripts complied by Jacob Ben Hayyim (Ibid., 23). Our oldest and best Hebrew manuscripts, the Aleppo Codex, the Leningrad Codex (basis of Biblia Hebraica), the Cairo Pentateuch and the Damascus Pentateuch Codex all differ in their letter sequences because of spelling variations which throws off the ELS.
- Fourthly, manuscripts from the Dead Sea Scrolls like 4Q Samuel have fewer vowel letters than later Masoretic texts. The spelling stems from the post-Exilic period (after the 6th century). Early texts from the time of Moses would have no vowel letters. Vowel letters began around the 9th to 8th centuries BC. This would throw off the ELS.
Hendel concludes, "All manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible, including all Masoretic manuscripts, differ in their number of letters, and the original texts were spelled differently from the manuscripts in our possession" (Bible Review 13:4 (August 1997), 24). Therefore the ELS would be different in every manuscript. For more detailed analysis see The Bible "Codes": A Textual Perspective
It should be noted that their are some legitimate sequences. There are alphabetical psalms where each verse starts with the next letter in the alphabet. Psalm 119 has eight verses for each letter of the alphabet. Other alphabetical acrostics are single lines for each letter of the alphabet like Psalms 25, 34, 145, or two lines Psalm 37. Psalm 111 and 112 form an alphabetical acrostic. Therefore originally they were one psalm. The same may be true for Psalms 9 and 10.
The entire book of Lamentations is poetic. There are five laments containing 22 verses except the third which is triple (66 verses). The Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters. The first four laments are alphabetical acrostics.
The Book of Esther does not have the name of God in it, except in acrostic form. Several times the name of God appears using the first of last letter of words in a forward or backward sequence (Bullinger 1968, 186; Esther 1:20, 5:4,13, 7:5,7). They are not equidistant. It might be more profitable to look at this type of sequence.
There is an interesting cryptogram in the Old Testament in Jeremiah 25:26 (See NIV note) where the name Sheshach stands for Babylon (Jeremiah 51:41). Here the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet is switched with the last letter of the alphabet. Then the second letter is switched with the second to the last letter of the alphabet, and so forth.
There is another cryptogram in Jeremiah 51:1 where Leb Kamai stands for Chaldea which is Babylon. Leb Kamai literally means "the heart of my attackers" (see NIV note). This meaning perfectly describes Babylon. There are very few cryptograms in scripture.
This is probably the best know Bible Code 666, the mark of the beast in Revelation 13:18. This is called gematria meaning "manipulation with numbers". In both Hebrew and Greek as well as other languages, letters of the alphabet were used as numbers. So names had a certain numerical value. "Nero Caesar" transliterated into the Hebrew from the Greek (Neron Kaiser) adds up to exactly 666 in Hebrew. N=50, R=200, W=6, N=50 plus Q=100, S=60, R=200 totals 666. This spelling of Nero Caesar was found in the discovery of an Aramaic document in Wadi Murabba`at (BASOR 170, 65). The Latin form of "Nero Caesar" when transliterated into Hebrew adds up to 616. This most likely explains the textual variant in Revelation 13:18 with the number 616. It should also be noted that the Greek word for "Beast" when transliterated back into Hebrew adds up to 666. Ancient writers referred to Nero as a "beast" (See Philostratus Vit. Apoll. 4.38; Sib. Or. 5.343; 8.157). For more detailed commentary see Word Biblical Commentary: Revelation 6-16 by David E. Aune.
Abraham is said to have 318 servants in Genesis 14:14. In Rabbinic tradition the 318 is taken as gematria for Eliezer, Abrahamís servant. In Hebrew Eliezer adds up to 318. In an early Christian writing (Barn. 9:8) the 318 refers to the number Abraham circumcised and the first to letters refer to Jesus. The Greek name of Jesus adds up 888.
In the Sibylline Oracles (book 1.137-146) there is a gematria riddle for the name of God that we are still not sure what the solution is.
Bible Codes (ELS) are not secrets messages of God hidden in the Bible. The same thing can be done with any book. It would be far better to spend the time studying the Bible rather than Bible codes.
Bible Codes II. The latest and most egregious example of the (mis)use of science in the (dis)service of religion is Michael Drosnin's Bible Code II, enjoying a lucrative ride on the New York Times best-seller list, as did the 1997 original. See Codified Claptrap - The Bible Code is numerological nonsense masquerading as science.