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Some months ago, we wrote this piece for the library believing that the experiment of Witztum, Rips and Rosenberg which we included, had been subjected to such searching peer review, that one could accept their findings without question.

Since that time however, Dror Bar-Natan and Brendan McKay have published a paper "Equidistant Letter Sequences in Tolstoy's 'War and Peace'" which cast serious doubt not only on the experiment but also on the work of Harold Gans who did a follow-up experiment on similar lines.

What is even more disturbing is that in spite of many promises to explain the problem to me, Eliyahu Rips has delayed and delayed his answer to the simplest of questions, at one point stating that the answer was written in Hebrew but not yet translated into English...and that was weeks ago.

Just as disturbing is the fact that Harold Gans, a former senior cryptologic mathematician for the United States' National Security Agency (N. S. A.) who is widely quoted in all the books on the "Bible Codes" as having fully endorsed the experiment by repeating it to his own satisfaction, and has work published on the web, now repudiates everything in private because of the errors in it and yet seems to have made no public statement to that effect. Nor has he withdrawn his submission on the web. Thus he seems, at least for the moment, to want to have his cake and eat it too. If you read his work on the web (he won't allow us to quote it here, but here is the link, which is called an explanation) you will get the impression that all is well with the work on the codes. If you speak to him in private he admits to mistakes and won't comment on anything that has been said about his work in any of the books in which he is quoted, a list of which can be found below. Instead he is waiting until he finishes work on a new paper.

You should be warned therefore that his quotes about the Codes in all the books on the subject should be taken with a pinch of salt until his new work is complete.

Let me try and explain the problem in the simplest possible way.

We all know about coincidences in our lives. Some people think they are all meaningful and a best selling novel was written with such an approach in mind. Carl Gustav Jung wrote extensively on the concept of synchronicity and the study of Parapsychology has had its ups and downs as a valid scholarly pursuit. The fact is however that many such experiences are meaningful perhaps in a subjective way but whether they are anything more than chance can only be assessed statistically.

That is why the Statistical Science article was so important and why many scientists tried to find fault with the statistics without much success, although Brendan McKay gave it his best shot.

The flaw was found in an unexpected way. One expects from reputable scientists that their description of a published experiment is accurate and until McKay came along, that was the given in this experiment. One sentence in particular was taken for granted but it was perhaps the most important sentence in the whole paper. It stated.

"The list of appellations for each personality was provided by Professor S. Z. Havlin, of the department of bibliography and librarianship at Bar Ilan University, on the basis of a computer search of the "Responsa" database of that University."

In fact McKay et al showed that to be untrue. Only they went to the trouble to check the spelling of every Sage used in the experiment and found many discrepancies but at least two which were not included in the data base as suggested. You might wonder why that is so important and it is their experiment on "War and Peace" which showed exactly how important this discrepancy was. Using the same "rules" as Witztum et al, McKay et al were able to produce the same level of significance in their experiment using the same Sages, but this time not in Genesis but in the Hebrew version of "War and Peace".

What does this prove.

1) Because something significant appears to have been discovered in any particular codes experiment, it does not prove that it could not have occurred by chance or by manipulation.

2) For an experiment to prove the effect (and we cannot believe any of the codes so far discovered are significant UNLESS such an experiment is undertaken) strict rules have to be laid in advance and ADHERED to.

3) There are many well-meaning individuals (and some not so well-meaning) who claim to have found wonderful messages in the Bible using the codes. This is especially true of Christians who claim to have found many significant messages in the Torah about Yeshua. Until ONE experiment is conducted that does not have the flaws of the Witztum experiment everyone should be very wary of any such claims. Until the evidence is in, the most that can be stated is that they might look interesting.

There is also a problem with the statements by practically everyone who is making money by publishing books and seminars including the Codes as a topic, that the Journal in which the famous experiment is published is strictly peer reviewed and only papers that have passed the most stringent or tests are allowed in. We asked the editor of the Journal to comment on this, but he refused, however everyone should read this piece by Barry Simon who is the IBM Professor of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Caltech.

You will probably be as surprised as I.

Let me state my position clearly. I believe that some of the examples that I have shown in the past, the one about the Rambam springs to mind, is elegent and warrants deeper analysis and investigation. In this I am in total disagreement with Brendan McKay who finds nothing of interest in such examples except as a way perhaps of testing the gullibility of some people wishing to believe. He does the experiments because he is firmly convinced that no such phenomenon COULD possibly exist and like many other rationalists and skeptics he wishes to prove his point especially when evidence seems to present itself against his views.

Such views are perfectly rational and should not be condemned by those who for religious reasons wish the codes to be a reality. He is performing a great service by his skepticism because he keeps on their toes, those wishing for their own reasons to influence others of their positions.

At the other end of the scale there are those who claim great significance whenever a couple of words in "code" are found close together in a relevant piece of the Tanakh. Why they should believe there would be meaningful "codes" in books outside of the 5 Books has yet to be explained and yet they are constantly paraded out to prove the coming of the "time of the end" is imminent. Such "evidence" should be noted with extreme care. It is important to be able to discern the wheat from the chaff and I am pleased to help.

If you have such a critical eye, please visit the site of Lori Eldridge who runs a discussion group on the codes. 

I have stated many time that peoples of faith should have no worries about science, logic and skeptics. The truth is all that should be sought and its the truth that shall not only make you free but strengthen your faith, unless of course its totally misguided.


Mike Sanders
December 1997

Will be available from our Histories & Mysteries of Man bookstore (coming soon...) If you are interested in purchasing these programs immediately, please contact Michael Sanders.

BIBLE SEARCH by Torah Soft

"Bible Search" by Torah Soft is included in the book CompuTorah, by Moshe Katz, pub. 1996. It searches the entire Tanach (O.T.) (Not available for the Mac) The book contains a gold mine of information on the codes. You can order the book which includes the "Bible Search" disk for $59.95 plus $15 shipping.

Moshe Katz is one of those who will be appearing to answer questions on the site in the New Year.


TES-Torah Educational Software has a computer search program called "Torah Codes" (Torah only ). Cost is $79 plus $5 shipping. It has a manual and they offer Tech support. Reportedly a very user friendly manual, program, and company. It is available for both PC and Mac (any Mac from a Mac plus and up). The current program for the Mac is fairly good and more up to date than its DOS counterpart.

Prescribed by Dr. Webster's Web Site of the Day


  1. Cracking the Bible Code: Jeffrey Satinover (ISBN: 0688154638)
    The only book so far that has overall merit. Still should be read with caution when it comes to the Witztum experiment.
  2. The Bible Code: Michael Drosnin (ISBN: 0684810794)
    Reader beware. The most interesting part is the prediction of Rabin's death.
  3. The Signature of God: Grant R. Jeffrey (ISBN: 0921714289)
    Another book to be read with great caution although it contains much fascinating information. He has already had to pay up regarding his codes pronouncements which are no longer valid.
  4. Yeshua; Yacov Rambsel (ISBN: 0931914343)
    The start of the "Yeshua in Code" phenomenon. The book is totally discredited. Similar codes can be found in War and Peace, Moby Dick or anywhere else.
  5. Bible Codes Plus (ISBN: )
    If you have no knowledge of Hebrew, this is the best codes programme available with many wonderful features. Obtainable from us at $79.95 plus $10 shipping and handling. Please write if you need more details.


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