By: Rabbi Daniel Mechanic1 (In consultation with Doron Witztum2 and Harold Gans3) DANIEL MECHANIC is a senior international Codes lecturer and researcher for the Aish Hatorah/Discovery Seminar. He would like to thank Dr. Jeffrey Satinover – a world-renowned author on Codes- for his helpful comments. This article has been split into 4 parts – read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 4 as well.
Rambsel and Jeffrey’s “codes methodology” produces illogical and contradictory results and is, therefore, not valid. The results are meaningless. To publish books, whose aim is to convince people that the Bible contains “Yeshua codes” that prove or confirm specific Christian beliefs when, in fact, these “codes” are coincidental patterns, is dishonest. To promote a methodology that “proves” that Jesus is the Messiah, without revealing that the same methodology yields codes that “prove” he is not the Messiah, would be deceitful, were it deliberate.
An unbiased appraisal of Rambsel and Jeffrey’s methodology, therefore, must lead the clear-minded reader to but one of three conclusions. 1) There are codes in the Torah that prove Jesus is not the Messiah. 2) There are codes in the Torah proving that Mohammed, David Koresh or Krishna is the Messiah. 3) All of the Jesus, Mohammed, Koresh, and Krishna “codes” are mere coincidences and prove nothing. After evaluating all the evidence, dispassionate and honest people must reach conclusion number 3.
Sadly, on the web page advertising Pastor Rambsel’s book, we read his description of how many years of painstaking hand effort went into counting letters and producing the extractions he presents in his book. All of his “Yeshua codes ” (unlike the legitimate “Famous Rabbis” Codes) can be found in any large Hebrew document including newspapers, novels, the Hebrew translation of the Koran, etc. In fact, using his methodology, a set of precisely contradictory examples can be – and has been – easily extracted from the Torah in but a few hours with the right tools and the requisite skills.
Interpreting With Codes
The most important statement one can make regarding codes research is that you cannot interpret anything you find.
Even if one can demonstrate through rigorous mathematical evaluation that the author of the Torah inserted encoded words into the text, in close proximity, it would still be impossible to interpret how they are related. Suppose that someone could statistically verify that the words “Yeshua,” “Messiah,” “True Prophet,” etc. were deliberately encoded near each other in the Torah. We would still have no way of knowing what the author of the Torah intended to teach us with these encodings. Is he telling us that Yeshua is the Messiah? Or is he perhaps telling us that Yeshua is not the Messiah, but is widely thought to be? Perhaps he is only saying that Yeshua thought that he was the Messiah. Or that many people think Yeshua thought he was the Messiah. The impossibility of interpreting a code would also apply if we demonstrated that the words “Yeshua,” “False Prophet,” “False Messiah, ” etc. were deliberately encoded near each other in the Torah. The author could have meant that Jesus was indeed a false prophet or perhaps that there would be people who would think that he was a false prophet. It is impossible to know. Therefore, even if one could scientifically prove that all of the “Yeshua codes” were deliberately placed in the Torah, it would still be impossible to reach any of the theological conclusions that Pastor Rambsel and Grant Jeffrey reached.
Furthermore, even if one can prove that a word pattern was deliberately placed in a text, any interpretation of that word pattern afterwards, based on the specific passage it was found in, is pure speculation, and can all too easily be exploited to promote religious or political agendas. For example, if someone proved that “Hitler” was deliberately encoded in the portion of the Torah describing the “Flood” narrative, one can say that Hitler was evil and brought about a world-wide destruction, or, as Nazis would interpret it, that Hitler was like Noah, who was the most righteous person in his generation.
Therefore, only words whose relationship conveys objective facts can be considered “related words“. For example, in the “Famous Rabbis” experiment, the relationship between the encoded words conveys an historical fact: a specific Rabbi was born or died on a specific day. The legitimate Codes in the Torah can accomplish one thing and nothing else: They can validate the hypothesis that the author of the Torah is not human. Any statement or interpretation beyond this is fundamentally incorrect. Regarding the “Famous Rabbis” example, the only conclusion or “interpretation” one can reach is that the author of the Torah deliberately encoded those words. A statement such as, “These Codes prove that we should follow those rabbis and the Jewish religion,” is simply not true.
In this respect, Grant Jeffrey has not fully appreciated his own words. On page 219 in The Signature of God, he makes the following correct statement, “Another important point to note is that these Hebrew codes do not contain any hidden theological or doctrinal messages” (emphasis added). He then publishes books describing “codes” which he claims “prove” a specific theological or doctrinal message (i.e., Jesus is the Messiah).
“Faith” In Codes
One of the more troubling Christian responses has been that despite the fact that Rambsel and Jeffrey’s methodology and examples are objectively, scientifically, and logically invalid, nevertheless, we still have “faith” that the “Yeshua codes” are genuine. (Interestingly, Moslems also claim that they have faith that there are”Mohammed codes” in the Torah).
No one would argue with anyone’s clear right to have faith in anything they choose. However, we have shown that there is not even one example in Pastor Rambsel or Grant Jeffrey’s books that constitutes proof or confirmation of anything. Therefore, people who suggest that their faith in the “Yeshua codes” does constitute evidence or proof of their validity, are intellectually confused. Furthermore, these people recognize that the “Yeshua codes” are extractions of coincidental patterns, and are of no evidential value apart from their faith in them. That they nevertheless attempt to influence the religious beliefs of others as though these codes have evidential value is dishonest, as well as morally offensive to people who hold different beliefs.
Proselytizing with Codes
It is always difficult to criticize people in public. Indeed, had Pastor Rambsel, Grant Jeffrey, and many other Christian missionaries not used these so-called “codes ” to proselytize Jews, we would not have felt obligated to respond so forcefully. But because they have chosen a form of presentation which is inevitably pitched to make Christians out of the remarkably small number of Jews in the world (less than 0.003% of the world population), we felt compelled to expose their errors. Having detected something extraordinarily important emerging over many years of scrupulous research via the scientifically rigorous Codes methodology, certain missionary groups have seized upon Rambsel and Jeffrey’s examples to bolster their argument to Jews. Those who have hastily adopted these examples for proselytizing purposes lack even the slightest sense of due diligence – or integrity, for that matter. Theological debate concerning who is the Messiah is appropriate (when entered into voluntarily, and conducted in a spirit of mutual respect and with adherence by both sides to previously agreed upon standards of evidence). Playing letter games with the Torah, however, and misleading people with false evidential claims is, at the very least, offensive. To those who recognize this game for what it is – an attempt to proselytize Jews by dishonestly using “codes” as proof or confirmation of Christian beliefs – it speaks extraordinarily poorly for the faith it purports to represent, and more solid representatives of that faith have not hesitated to say so, to their credit.
Christian scholars have contacted us and expressed their profound regret over the embarrassing behavior of their colleagues. A strong word of caution was issued by Dr. LaVonne Stiffler, a member of the Christian organization Bridges for Peace. She has been investigating the codes phenomenon for several years and encourages objective research. She writes 34 that, “popular Christian authors and speakers are eager to jump on the codes phenomenon and fly with it, often repeating what others tell them, without basic knowledge of Hebrew, statistics or fallacies of logic.” She goes on to say, “Depending on one’s preconceived expectation, subjective ‘evidence’ may be found somewhere to ‘prove’ any philosophical or theological point.”
There is an important difference between what one entertains privately and what one goes on public record as supporting. It is a necessary part of the creative process to speculate about things that seem striking at first. But before offering these for the public record, the responsible individual puts them through a truth-filter first. For example, we have known for many years that there are critical codes – some of striking complexity – that present Jesus as a false prophet. They are substantially more sophisticated than the simple examples mentioned in Rambsel and Jeffrey’s books. The unanimous consensus was, and remains, that these extractions are not valid codes because they will not withstand critical scrutiny and, therefore, prove nothing. It would offend the sensitivities of others to then use these flawed results as an attack on their deeply held convictions.
“Yeshua Codes” Statistics
There is unfortunately another area where Yacov Rambsel and Grant Jeffrey have left themselves open to further criticism: their misuse of statistics. It is one thing to be naive about a new area of research. But statistics is a well-established subject and people surely know whether they are or are not skilled in it. We showed Rambsel and Jeffrey’s “statistical computations,” including Rambsel’s chapter on probabilities, to a number of world-class statisticians. They were astonished – some were appalled – by the utterly ridiculous statistical claims in Rambsel and Jeffrey’s books. They simply disregarded universally accepted scientific norms. There is not even one statistical claim or computation in their books that is mathematically rigorous or true (see further for a simplified explanation of the parameters necessary for a valid statistical evaluation). Yet, the only way that one can objectively demonstrate that a word pattern was deliberately encoded in a document, rather than it being an accidental appearance, is through an objective, scientific and statistical evaluation. Because this evaluation depends on extremely complex mathematical and statistical computations, the great majority of people are incapable of making this evaluation. Fortunately, however, there are qualified experts one can turn to. Mathematicians belonging to the Institute of Mathematical Statistics conducted a statistical evaluation as to the rigor of the legitimate Torah Codes research. The results were published in Statistical Science, an upper-echelon, peer-reviewed journal of mathematical statistics.
Challenge to Yacov Rambsel and Grant Jeffrey
We therefore issue a challenge to Pastor Rambsel, Grant Jeffrey and all the other missionaries who are talking and writing about “codes.” Submit your findings to evaluation by unbiased experts. Convince a professional peer-reviewed mathematical or scientific journal to confirm that your “codes” are not mere coincidences. If you are unwilling or unable to obtain confirmation of at least the workmanship of your technique and statistical assessment, then fulfill a basic moral obligation which is part of the Ninth Commandment (a belief in which we all share): Stop using your representations to impress people who are unfamiliar with the Codes methodology and are, therefore, unable to provide their own critical assessment.
Proselytizing by Proxy: Mere Foolishness or Deliberate Deception?
Finally, the most painful aspect of this entire discussion is the blatant misappropriation by Grant Jeffrey of the authentic Codes methodology to legitimatize (by association) the false methodology of the “Yeshua codes.” In The Signature of God, for example, Mr. Jeffrey devotes an entire chapter to the statistically verified Torah Codes discovered by Israeli researchers. (Though the chapter contains numerous errors, Mr. Jeffrey establishes credibility, both for the phenomenon and himself, by constantly mentioning the foremost Codes experts in the world: Doron Witztum, Harold Gans and Jeffrey Satinover. Interestingly, he failed to contact any of them. Had he done so, any one of these world-class Codes experts would have clearly explained to him why the “Yeshua codes” methodology cannot produce valid results and how all of his “codes” are statistically meaningless). Immediately following this chapter is a description of “Yeshua codes” that are utterly lacking in critical scrutiny. Mr. Jeffrey fails to tell the reader that the methods and level of rigor used for the “Yeshua codes” are categorically different than the legitimate Torah Codes. In so doing, Mr. Jeffrey has deliberately misled tens of thousands of unsuspecting and trusting people into believing that the methodology used with regard to the “Yeshua codes” is the same as the legitimate technique developed by scrupulous researchers over many years. In fact, there is no relationship between the two at all. More insidious is the fact that the readers are led to believe that the “Yeshua codes” were scientifically and statistically verified. They were not.
Mr. Jeffrey compounds his appalling and irresponsible behavior in his books, public lectures, and interviews by making it seem as though high-level mathematicians and statisticians, including Harold Gans and the chairman of mathematics at Harvard University, have confirmed the validity of the “Yeshua codes.” Mr. Jeffrey surely knows when he constantly quotes this professor from Harvard who said, “the Codes phenomenon is real” – or when Mr. Jeffrey says, “Harold Gans confirmed the existence of these codes” – that they were referring exclusively to the statistically verified “Famous Rabbis” experiment – not the “Yeshua codes.” Dozens of other missionaries use the same deceptive strategy as Mr. Jeffrey in their communications. On the Internet, for example, you will find the fraudulent heading of G. Edwin Lint’s book review of The Signature of God that tells it all – “Scientific and Computer-Aided Proof That God Is Real, The Bible Is Truth, and Jesus Is The Messiah.” People are thus fooled into believing that there is scientific proof that the “Yeshua codes” are real. Christian missionaries have written letters to the editors of many newspapers, produced videos, published numerous articles, appeared on television and radio – all falsely claiming or implying that Statistical Science and world-renowned statisticians have confirmed that the “Yeshua codes” are valid. These claims are false witness, pure and simple, and should be retracted publicly, widely and immediately.
Concluded in Part 4 here.