Bible Codes – Real or Rubbish?

Hidden codes embedded in Scripture!  Bible codes predict terrorist attacks!  Sensationalistic headlines like these have been seen for years.  Melodramatic books with extravagant claims appeared in the mid-1990s often written by authors with little Hebrew knowledge.

So frequently am I asked about this that I’m devoting this Thought Tool to the topic.  While in yeshiva, my teachers often showed me cryptic references to codes in the Five Books of Moses.  These are alluded to in the pre-WWII works of Rabbi Chaim Michel Dov Weissmandl, the volumes of Rabbeinu Bachya (c. 1300) and many others.

How do they work?  Look at the color study guide found in each of our four Genesis Journeys sets.  (We have posted it here as well.)You see the 27 letters of the Hebrew alphabet laid out in 3 rows of 9 letters each.  Each letter possesses a specific numeric value, so the rows can be viewed as 1-9, 10-90, and 100-900.  Furthermore, columns have meaning as well.  For example, 500 is an elevated, more intense form of 50, which, in turn, intensifies 5, which always suggests the FIVE books of Moses.

The first line of William Shakespeare’s play, King Henry VI, reads, “Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night.”  Imagine discovering that the 50th letter counting from the first ‘S’ in ‘heavens’ yields an ‘H’. Counting a further 50 letters we come across an ‘A’. Continuing, we discover that Shakespeare encoded his name into the opening of all his plays in this fashion.  He didn’t.  But if he did, it would eliminate all controversy about who really wrote those plays.

Well, counting by 50 from the first instance of the first letter of the Hebrew word for Torah in the first two and last two of the Five Books of Moses yields the entire word TORAH. (The middle book, Leviticus, reveals a different word, for reasons we don’t have space to explore here.)

There are hundreds of similar examples throughout the Torah, which defy mathematical odds. An amazing sequence is found in Genesis 38. This chapter introduces the strange circumstances leading to the birth of Peretz, the 9th level grandfather of King David.  In Genesis 38:11-28, using the counts of 50, we find embedded the names, Ruth, Boaz, Oved, Yishai (Jesse), and David in that chronological order. These, of course, are King David’s father, grandfather, and great-grandparents. Statistical calculations show that the odds of this happening by chance are well over a million to one.

Why did God put the codes in the Torah?  Perhaps, so that in future years, when people would become scientifically advanced and secularized and come to doubt that the Torah is God’s message to mankind, they would encounter the codes, known to Torah-knowledgeable Jews but otherwise discoverable only with computers. They will be thrown into consternation and doubt. They will ask, “Is it possible that the Torah really is the word of God?”

In the early 80s I was in regular touch with some of the first Israeli computer scientists exploring the codes, like distinguished mathematicians Eliyahu Rips and Doron Witztum.  They were searching for the patterns hinted at in early Hebrew writings and requested my help in securing computing equipment. Back then, computers were big and expensive but my California congregation willingly participated in purchasing several computers that we dispatched to our researcher friends in Israel.  In return, we asked to be kept informed of all progress, gaining early data on code research.

Are the codes authentic?  Those passed down since Sinai certainly are. However, since the codes became a media event, some people have attempted to sensationalize them. For this reason, there is both valid and not valid information about codes to be found.

Codes are only one of the astonishing surprises embedded in the Hebrew Torah. With current events unfolding as they are, understanding prophecies and material about Islam is vital to productively living our lives. I encourage you to explore Clash of Destiny: Decoding the Secrets of Israel and Islam.


Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here

Is it right for married couples to study the bible separately as in a women’s only bible study?

Thank You,


Read Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin’s ANSWER HERE

This week’s Susan’s Musings: Right Wing (Fill in the Blank)

Actually, I’ll fill it in for you. The answer is, “extremist.” If you say the words, “great, green, greasy” to my children, they will shout out, “Limpopo River”, based on Rudyard Kipling stories that my husband told them while they were growing up. If you then said that you were thinking of an avocado burger or an emerald suntan lotion, that information wouldn’t dislodge the association with “Limpopo River” from their minds. For my children, the words “great, green and greasy” lead to one and only one conclusion.

Sadly, language has been manipulated to form an equation between the benign word ‘right’…READ MORE

Shopping Cart