The Bible Code. By Michael Dros­nin. New York: Simon & Schus­ter, 1997. The Sig­na­ture of God. By: Grant R. Jef­frey. Ontario, Cana­da: Fron­tier Research Pub­li­ca­tions, 1996. Crack­ing the Bible Code. By: Jef­frey Sati­nover. NewYork: William & Mor­row, 1997.

Reviewed by Bill Crouse
Tea leaves, stars, the entrails of sheep, and crys­tal balls have all been used as medi­ums for divin­ing the?future. One would hard­ly imag­ine that the Bible could be con­strued in such a way, but it has! One would have to pre­sume that such a decep­tion must be beyond Satan’s wildest dreams. Think about it! Mis­di­rect­ing men’s thoughts from the clear word of God to words divined from Scrip­ture – peo­ple study­ing the Bible not for its ordi­nary sur­face mean­ing, but it’s secret and hid­den mes­sages! Might I be so bold to sug­gest that such a pro­ce­dure bor­ders on blas­phe­my. All types of div­ina­tion are strict­ly for­bid­den in Scrip­ture (Deut. 18:10). This new-fan­gled approach to divin­ing mes­sages from “behind,” “around” and “under” the words of Scrip­ture is not new. It goes back at least to the 12th Cen­tu­ry in Ger­many when Hasidic Jews began to attribute mys­ti­cal qual­i­ties to Scrip­ture and to the let­ters of the Hebrew alpha­bet. Today this occult prac­tice is known as Cabal­ism. It arose out of pagan Greek phi­los­o­phy (Pythago­ras) which taught that ulti­mate real­i­ty was com­posed of num­bers. The Cabal­ists believed there were sev­er­al lev­els of mean­ing in the text of Scrip­ture: one that was on the sur­face and obvi­ous, and sev­er­al oth­er lev­els deeply embed­ded in the text?that could only be dis­cov­ered if one knew the secret for­mu­la. One method (gema­tria) of find­ing this hid­den mean­ing was car­ried out by assign­ing numer­i­cal value?to let­ters in the alpha­bet and then adding the sums to find the hid­den mean­ing. For exam­ple, the Hebrew text of Gen­e­sis 1:1 has sev­en words, and the num­ber of let­ters in the verse is 28, a num­ber divis­i­ble by sev­en. When more 7s and mul­ti­ples of 7s were found in the same chap­ter, it was deter­mined the num­ber 7 had mys­ti­cal mean­ing and was there­fore the author’s real message.

Sev­er­al years ago the Israeli math­e­mati­cian, Eliyahu Rips, locat­ed a rare book by a Pol­ish Rab­bi who devised codes for find­ing hid­den mes­sages in Scrip­ture. The Rab­bi’s method involved the labo­ri­ous method of count­ing equidis­tant spaces between the Hebrew let­ters. For exam­ple, start­ing with the first time the let­ter “t” (in Hebrew) occurs in the book of Gen­e­sis, and count­ing ahead 49 let­ters you would arrive at an “o.” Then, by count­ing ahead anoth­er 49 let­ters and find­ing an “r” you would even­tu­al­ly spell the word “Torah.” Rips decid­ed to see what would hap­pen if he har­nessed the pow­er of the com­put­er to work these codes. What he found (in 1986) was so amaz­ing that he got his results pub­lished in a pres­ti­gious jour­nal of math­e­mat­ics and sta­tis­tics. Rips, for exam­ple, found 25 names of trees and plants native to Israel embed­ded in the text of Gen­e­sis 2:7 – 3:3. Among his oth­er dis­cov­er­ies were the names of 32 promi­nent Rab­bis in Israel’s his­to­ry along with places and times of their births and deaths in close prox­im­i­ty in the text. The main point of Rips’ jour­nal arti­cle was that this was a sta­tis­ti­cal anom­aly that was not due to mere chance. His method became known at equidis­tant let­ter sequenc­ing (ELS). His pro­ce­dure was rough­ly as fol­lows: with the text of the Torah (the first five books of the OT) in his?computer, he elim­i­nat­ed all spaces between the words cre­at­ing a long sequence of 304,805 let­ters (con­so­nants only in Hebrew).

He next arranged the text in pages, in effect cre­at­ing cross-word puz­zles. Then he instruct­ed the computer?to find a cer­tain word in Hebrew that appeared with equidis­tant sequenc­ing. Once he found a word or name, he would then look to see if any relat­ed facts might occur in the near­by text. One of Rips’ col­leagues found the word “Auschwitz,” and, lo and behold, in the text he also found the names of oth­er con­cen­tra­tion camps! Enter Michael Dros­nin. He seems to have impeccable?credentials. He was a reporter for The Wash­ing­ton Post, The Wall Street Jour­nal, and wrote a best-sell­ing biog­ra­phy of Howard Hugh­es. His book, The Bible Code was on the best-sell­er list for months. The book cre­at­ed quite a stir in Eng­land and among col­lege stu­dents. Dros­nin’s book is about Rips’ dis­cov­ery. But it is more than that. After acquir­ing a copy of the com­put­er pro­gram, Dros­nin launched his own research. His results and sub­se­quent claims are what made the book a sen­sa­tion. In the book, he claims he found a pre­dic­tion of Yitzak Rabin’s assas­si­na­tion. He fur­ther claims that he warned Rabin pri­or to the event. After the assas­si­na­tion, Dros­nin claimed he found the assas­s­in’s name embed­ded in the text. In the course of the book’s 200 plus pages, Dros­nin makes many oth­er claims about the codes pre­dic­tive qual­i­ty. The impli­ca­tion he presents is that this is super­nat­ur­al, yet he con­tin­u­al­ly denies that he believes in a god. I guess this is sup­posed to make his claims more cred­i­ble to the scientific?community. Dros­nin believes vir­tu­al­ly all knowl­edge, real and hypo­thet­i­cal, is to be found encod­ed in the Bible. He also does his share of hedg­ing his bets. While he def­i­nite­ly pro­motes the predictive?characteristic, he nev­er­the­less, believes that the future is not deter­mined, and what is pre­dict­ed will not of neces­si­ty occur. Once a prophe­cy is known, like Rabin’s assas­si­na­tion, the future can be altered.

Appar­ent­ly, this God he does not believe in, does not know the future infal­li­bly, or either is pow­er­less to pre­vent cer­tain events from hap­pen­ing. This is very akin to the the­o­log­i­cal writ­ing (process the­ol­o­gy) of Rab­bi Harold Kush­n­er in his pop­u­lar book: Why Do Bad Things Hap­pen To Good Peo­ple? Pro­fes­sor Rips, who intro­duced Dros­nin to the codes, has lashed out at Dros­nin and oth­ers who use the codes for pre­dic­tion, but iron­i­cal­ly, many things found by Rips and his col­leagues were also future at the time the first five books of the OT were writ­ten (Auschwitz, for example).

The con­cept of the bible codes is fatal­ly flawed at numer­ous points. I will men­tion sev­er­al, and then refer you to oth­er sources for more detail. First, the way the pages are laid out is arbi­trary. How many let­ters you allow on a page is pure­ly the deci­sion of the com­put­er oper­a­tor. This affects par­tic­u­lar­ly words that are found ver­ti­cal­ly or diag­o­nal­ly (as in cross­word puz­zles). Sec­ond­ly, the
Hebrew text they use is not the same as the orig­i­nal man­u­scripts. There are vari­ants and tex­tu­al prob­lems that will affect the out­come. Third­ly, Dros­nin’s trans­la­tion of Hebrew leaves much to be desired. For exam­ple, in his most pub­li­cized piece of evi­dence, the pre­dic­tion of Rabin’s death, he trans­lates the?passage in Dt. 4:42 (the con­text is the cities of refuge), where Rabin’s name appears via the code, as “assas­sin will assas­si­nate.” The cor­rect trans­la­tion is: “mur­der­er who mur­ders.” Many oth­er exam­ples are cit­ed by crit­ics. Fourth­ly, and per­haps the most damming of all, is the fact that it has been demon­strat­ed by crit­ics, that by using the same method, the same results can be obtained in oth­er works of literature.

Oth­er books that have been tried suc­cess­ful­ly are Moby Dick and War and Peace. Sad­ly enough, sev­er­al evan­gel­i­cal min­is­ters and writ­ers have jumped on this band­wag­on and have pro­claimed in books and on cable tele­vi­sion that the bible codes are proof of divine inspi­ra­tion of Scrip­ture. Such is the book, The Sig­na­ture of God by Grant Jef­frey. Jef­frey thinks it is sig­nif­i­cant that “Yeshua,” the OT name for Jesus,?is found thou­sands of times encod­ed in the OT. What he does not know or admit, is so does the name Bud­dha and Mohammed! There are demon­stra­ble rea­sons why “Yeshua” might be found thou­sands of times. In Hebrew, “Yeshua” is writ­ten with only three con­so­nants and they hap­pen to be three of the most fre­quent­ly used in Hebrew.

In my opin­ion these books are not worth your time or mon­ey. Ini­tial­ly, it was an inter­est­ing phe­nom­e­na that soon dis­si­pat­ed with close scruti­ny. The Bible is not some mys­ti­cal book with encrypt­ed and eso­teric mes­sages that can only be found through some com­pli­cat­ed method. While the Bible is a Holy book, it needs to be read in an ordi­nary way as though our lives depend­ed on it.

If you are trou­bled by the above books, or know some­one who has been snared by them, I recommend:

Decod­ing the Bible by John Wel­don and Clif­ford Wil­son. From my own expe­ri­ence, when Wel­don speaks you sel­dom need look else­where. No one is more thor­ough or knowl­edge­able about cults and the occult.

On the inter­net, check the excel­lent review by Probe staffer, Rich Milne,?at:

For an excel­lent book­let see: Deci­pher­ing the Bible Code by Mark Chalemin. To get a copy, send?$2.00 to the author at:

Fel­low­ship Bible Church North,
1700 Gate­way Blvd.,
Richard­son, TX 75080.

For the real­ly seri­ous, you will find a good Bib­li­cal per­spec­tive on numerol­o­gy in:
Bib­li­cal Numerol­o­gy by John J. Davis, and, Bible Numer­ics by Oswald T. Allis. To find these, you will have to look in the used book mar­ket, or check at the inter-library loan desk.

Chris­t­ian Infor­ma­tion Min­istries is a non-prof­it min­istry and is depen­dent on gifts from God’s peo­ple in order to oper­ate. If you receive a ben­e­fit from our mate­ri­als, would you con­sid­er giv­ing a tax-deductible gift to CIM. We sug­gest $25 a year minimum.
Send to: Chris­t­ian Infor­ma­tion Ministries,
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