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.
DORON WITZTUM is the pre-eminent Codes researcher and author in the world. He has dedicated his professional efforts to the development of advanced techniques for detecting and testing equidistant-interval encryptions in texts. His findings on this subject have been published in Statistical Science – a peer-refereed mathematical journal.
HAROLD GANS was a senior cryptologic mathematician for the United States’ National Security Agency until his retirement after 28 years of service. The agency maintains the world’s most advanced methods, experts and facilities for the detection and decryption of encoded material. He is the author of over 180 technical papers on these subjects and is a world-class expert in evaluating Codes. Presently, he is a mathematical consultant and international lecturer on Codes.
A recent book aimed primarily at proselytizing Jews to Christianity claims that hidden messages – “codes” – have been found in the Bible proving that Jesus is the Messiah. The book, by Yacov Rambsel, a Hebrew Christian pastor, is entitled Yeshua (second edition). It consists of a list of instances where the four-letter Hebrew word “Yeshua” – Jesus – and short phrases including it, may be “extracted” from the original Hebrew text of the Bible by seeking places where the letters forming the word are found with an equal number of skipped letters between them. Although we are restricting most of our comments here to Pastor Rambsel’s book, it should be noted that there are other Christian books, articles, videos, internet postings, etc. that repeat Pastor Rambsel’s findings or that discuss “codes” found using a similar methodology. Grant Jeffrey’s book The Signature of God is one example that has achieved a wide readership. These books reveal, unfortunately, a complete misunderstanding of the “codes methodology,” how it works, and what can and cannot be asserted concerning them. Pastor Rambsel and Grant Jeffrey are neither scientists, nor are they mathematicians or statisticians, and are simply disregarding the fundamental requirement for rigorous “validating methods” in domains such as these. Recently, a number of books authored by Jews have been published that make similar errors (CompuTorah, Fascinating Torah Prophesies, etc.). The following comments apply, therefore, to all of these works. It should be clear, however, that we are not debating the relative merits of Jewish and Christian theologies in this paper. We are simply focusing on those misuses and misrepresentations of the Codes that are aimed at proselytizing Jews to some form of Christianity.
In order to determine whether or not Rambsel’s findings are valid, we must clearly state what is meant by “Codes.” There are two types of word patterns that are formed through sequences of letters equidistantly spaced in a document: 1) Accidentally occurring word patterns 2) Encoded word patterns deliberately inserted into a document, i.e. “Codes.”
The first type – words accidentally formed through equidistant letter skip intervals – can obviously be extracted out of the letters found in every document written throughout the history of the world: The Bible, Shakespeare, any newspaper, the instructions on any medicine bottle, this article, etc. Their “existence” is purely coincidental and, therefore, a cryptologist4 would never refer to them as “Codes.” For example, in the sentence written above, the phrase “the history of the world” appears. Starting with the “T” in the word “the,” count every seven letters until you have spelled “toe” (the history of the world). Did we deliberately arrange the letters and words of that sentence in a way that would generate the encoding of the word “toe”? Obviously not. We never try to encode words in the letters we write to friends and family, yet every one of them can yield hundreds of such extractions. They are all there by accident. Their “existence” is unintentional. In fact, it can be demonstrated that they are statistically and mathematically meaningless.
The second type – encoded words deliberately inserted into a document – is categorically different. These types of word patterns are Codes that were purposely placed in a document by the document’s author. They are not random, coincidentally constructed words extracted from a text. In fact, there are Codes whose intentional placement in a document can be statistically and mathematically verified.
A unique type of Codes has been found in the Torah (Five Books of Moses). Its uniqueness lies in the fact that: 1) it can be statistically verified that these Codes were deliberately placed in the Torah by its author; 2) the information that was encoded could not have been known to mankind at the time it was encoded. The “Torah Codes” claim is as follows:
Names of famous Rabbis, together with their birth dates and death dates, were deliberately encoded in the Torah by its author thousands of years before these Rabbis ever lived. This claim has been statistically verified, (i.e., the probability that this phenomenon is due to chance is exceedingly small).
All of the other hundreds, thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands, of encoded words that exist in every document in the world are a coincidence (until proven otherwise). If it cannot be proven that a particular “code” was deliberately placed in a document, and a statistical evaluation shows it to be meaningless, their “existence” cannot – and should not – be used as proof of anything.
Furthermore, encoded words are ordered patterns that can be tested mathematically. The philosophical, religious or spiritual implications of a document with deliberately encoded words that relate to future events in history are a different issue altogether. The first and foremost issue that must be addressed when dealing with this phenomenon is whether or not it can be shown that the encoded words were deliberately inserted into a document. If a sequence of letters extracted from a text cannot be shown to be a genuine code (i.e., deliberate placement), and a mathematical evaluation of the extraction proves them to be statistically meaningless, then they, of course, cannot be honestly used as proof or confirmation of anything.
It is true that the Hebrew word “Yeshua5” (Jesus) can be extracted from numerous passages in the Hebrew Bible. Pastor Rambsel writes in his book how “Yeshua” can be extracted from passages in Isaiah, Daniel and Psalms. On pages 50 and 65 of Yeshua, we are shown how in the Book of Genesis, “Yeshua” can be found in passages that he insists refer to the Messiah. He then concludes that the author of the Torah deliberately encoded “Yeshua” at these locations in order to reveal to us that Jesus is the Messiah.
Following are only a few examples of the many fundamental errors in Pastor Rambsel’s methodology and logic:
1. Statistically, one would expect to find an appearance of “Yeshua” anywhere you decide to look, in almost any document in the world. When you have a large text (the Torah, for example, has 304,805 Hebrew letters) and you search for “Yeshua” at equidistant letter intervals, you expect to find it thousands of times. Moreover, the accidental appearance of “Yeshua” will happen much more than most Hebrew words because two of the Hebrew letters in “Yeshua,” “Yud” and “vav,” are the most common letters in the Hebrew Bible. In fact, the mathematical expectation is that “Yeshua” will appear accidentally in the Torah over 300,000 times (302,800.50 to be exact). Let’s focus on only one book of the Torah – the Book of Genesis. It contains 78,064 letters of which 9,035 are the Hebrew letter “Yud ” – the first letter of “Yeshua.” If we start at any of the 9,035 “Yud’s” and simplify our search by limiting the skip distances to up to only 1000 spaces between the letters, we will have 1000 different strings of letters from every different starting point (except a few at the very end of the text). So you have 9035 starting points, and from every starting point you can make 1000 different searches for the word “Yeshua.” That’s 1000 x 9035 chances, or 9,035,000 chances for the word “Yeshua” to appear in the text. Making an unintentional appearance of “Yeshua” even more likely to occur is the fact that the search for “Yeshua” is conducted both forward and backward through the text. This doubles the already huge possibility of the word appearing accidentally to over 18 million such chances in the Book of Genesis alone, when limiting our search to skip distances of up to only 1000 letters. Thus, one would clearly expect to find “Yeshua” accidentally encoded thousands of times in Genesis. In fact, the mathematical expectation is that “Yeshua” will be found in Genesis alone over 21,000 times (21,058.53 to be exact). Therefore, the appearance of “Yeshua” somewhere in the Torah would not – and could not – prove anything.
2) We indeed searched the Torah for the word “Yeshua.” Simplifying our search by limiting the skip distances to up to only 850 letters still yielded the word “Yeshua” over 10,000 times. (In reality, one can search for “Yeshua” at skip distances of up to approximately 100,000 letters). We also searched the Torah for the three- letter Hebrew word “Yeshu ” – the traditional Jewish spelling of Jesus. With skip distances again limited to only 850 letters, the search resulted not in thousands, but tens of thousands of occurrences. Therefore, claiming you have proof that Jesus is the Messiah because you found “Yeshua” encoded somewhere in the Torah is absurd. Its evidential significance is the same as finding an arrangement of words formed by the letters in a bowl of alphabet cereal or soup.
3) Control tests are the most effective way of validating or refuting a codes claim. The control test, in our case, would mean that we search for Rambsel’s “codes” in a different Hebrew text with the same number of letters as the Torah. It could be a Hebrew translation of any novel, or the Torah itself with all of its letters randomly arranged in many different ways. Obviously, it is impossible for these “texts” to contain deliberately inserted codes. If we would find Rambsel’s “codes” in these texts, then we would know that the “Yeshua codes” Rambsel found in the Torah are mere coincidences. We searched for “Yeshua” in a small portion of the Hebrew translation of War and Peace. Since it is a translation, all of its letters and words are, of course, not the original ones used by the author. Therefore, the translated text cannot possibly contain deliberate encodings of the word “Yeshua.” Yet, after again limiting our search to skip distances of up to only 850 letters, “Yeshua” appeared in War and Peace 2,055(6) times.
This control test illustrates that there is no evidential value at all to the finding of “Yeshua” in the Hebrew Bible. Moreover, it is precisely control tests such as these (among many other types of measures) that were used to validate the legitimate Torah Codes. This was accomplished by demonstrating that, unlike all of Rambsel’s “Yeshua codes,” the legitimate Torah Codes (i.e., “Famous Rabbis”) do not appear anywhere else except in the Torah7.
4) Rambsel claims that extracting “Yeshua” from “messianic” passages provides evidence that Yeshua is the Messiah. However, we extracted “Yeshua” from hundreds of passages that have no connection to the concept of Messiah. This clearly demonstrates to the thoughtful reader how futile it is to attach meaning or evidential value to an appearance of “Yeshua” (or to any single word or phrase) in any text, especially when these words can, and do appear everywhere.
In fact, any suggestion that a particular “code” is genuine because of the specific passage it was found in is wholly subjective in nature. Therefore, it cannot, by definition, be used as evidence in the objective validation process necessary to determine whether an equidistant letter sequence is a genuine Code.
5) On page 130, Rambsel discusses a passage in Daniel (chapter 9, verses 25-27), in which he found the word “Yeshua” appearing at intervals of 26, a significant number in Kabbalistic thought. More remarkable, he claims, is the fact that the word “Messiah” appears explicitly in the verse itself. This additional “proof” that Yeshua is the Messiah is quickly dismantled when one considers the fact that encoded in the very same text are ten other Hebrew names starting with a “Yud” and a “Shin” – the first two Hebrew letters of the word “Yeshua” (e.g., Yishai8, Yeshaya, Yashuv, Yishvi etc.). This clearly illustrates how it is either the commonality of these letters that is causing all of these names, including “Yeshua,” to be accidentally “encoded” or there are other potential Messiahs that, until now, we were unaware of. Were we to take Rambsel’s methodology seriously, more perplexing would be the fact that we found the name of the Communist leader “Lenin” encoded at the equally significant Kabbalistic skip distance of 49 – in this same “messianic” text in Daniel9.
Rambsel writes how, in Chapter 41 of Psalms, “Yeshua” appears in a “messianic” passage. Again, we found many other Hebrew names starting with a “Yud” and a “Shin” in this same passage. Furthermore, “Lenin”10 is also encoded in this same text at a skip distance of the Kabbalistic number 26 – the same number Rambsel found so significant when it revealed the word “Yeshua” in Daniel. In spite of these “codes”, we are certain that no one would conclude that Lenin is the Messiah.
6) In The Signature of God, Grant Jeffrey writes how God encoded “Yeshua” in hundreds of passages throughout the Bible. This is an extremely dangerous and irresponsible misuse of the “codes.” One could use this form of “codes research” to reach many other spiritually damaging conclusions. Using Rambsel and Jeffrey’s methodology, we found many other “messiahs”, including “Mohammed ” and “Krishna”, in the passages where they found “Yeshua.” Limiting our search of the Torah to skip distances of up to only 1000 letters, still yielded the encoded words Mohammed 2,328 times and Krishna 104 times. Furthermore, (David) “Koresh”, the self-proclaimed Messiah who was responsible for the death of over 100 men, women and children, is found encoded in the Torah 2,729 times, at skip distances of up to only 1,000 letters.
We have no interest in being facetious about such lofty topics as who is the Messiah. We are merely demonstrating how profoundly in error Rambsel and Jeffrey are and the absurd results their “methodology” will yield. The words “Yeshua” (and Mohammed, Krishna, Koresh, Lenin, etc.) appear accidentally anywhere you choose to look, whether it’s the Torah, Hebrew newspapers, or the Hebrew translation of War and Peace. Therefore, it proves nothing.
On page XXI of Yeshua and page 223 of The Signature of God, we are shown how the Hebrew phrase “Yeshua Shemi” (Yeshua is my name) was found in Chapter 53 of Isaiah. However, our use of Rambsel’s methodology yielded the phrase “Mohammed Shemi” (Mohammed is my name) in the Torah. In fact, “Mohammed Shemi”11 is encoded in the Torah exactly 21 times – a multiple of the Kabbalistically significant number 7. In addition, this phrase appears in each of the Five Books of Moses. The phrase “Koresh Shemi”12 (Koresh is my name) is encoded 43 times in the Torah and also appears in each of the Five Books of Moses. Furthermore, “Buddha Shemi” (Buddha is my name) and “Lenin Shemi” (Lenin is my name) are also encoded in the Torah 18 times.
On page 44, Rambsel writes how, in the Book of Leviticus, the phrase “Dam Yeshua” (the blood of Yeshua) appears at a skip distance of the significant number 7. But the phrase, “Dam Mohammed” (the blood of Mohammed) is also encoded in Leviticus13. In fact, “Dam Mohammed” is encoded exactly 14 times in the Torah – a multiple of 7. The phrase “Dam Koresh” (the blood of Koresh) is also encoded in the Book of Leviticus14. In fact, “Dam Koresh” is encoded 10 times in the Torah.
It is obvious that the phrases “Koresh Shemi,” “Yeshua Shemi,” “Blood of Koresh,” “Blood of Yeshua,” etc. are all appearing by coincidence and do not prove anything.
Matching Skip Distances
On page 79, Rambsel offers further “proof” to support his claim that Jesus is the Messiah by pointing out that the word “Yeshua” appears at skip distances of 172 letters starting at Genesis 1:14. At the very same skip distance of 172 letters, starting at 50:14, we find the encoded word “Mashiach” (Messiah).
Is this form of “codes research” a valid way of proving that Yeshua is the Messiah? Below are several reasons why it is not valid.
1) As mentioned earlier, “Yeshua” may be extracted from the Torah tens of thousands of times. The word “Mashiach” – Messiah – may be extracted several thousand times. Since these two words are found thousands of times, one expects (and finds) hundreds of them unintentionally encoded at matching skip distances. It is so commonplace that, again, it cannot prove anything.
2) Using Rambsel’s search methods, we found many other candidates for Messiah. For example, “Koresh”15 and “Buddha”16 are also encoded in Genesis at jumps of 172 letters – the same jump as the word “Messiah.” Does this prove that David Koresh or Buddha is the Messiah? Of course not – just as Rambsel’s example of “Yeshua” and “Messiah” does not prove that “Yeshua” is the Messiah. (A follower of David Koresh might claim that these “codes” illustrate not only Koresh’s messiahship, but confirms the special relationship to Jesus that he insisted on: they both share the same skip distance as “Messiah” – 172).
3) Rambsel’s “proof” is based on the fact that, like “Yeshua,” the word “Messiah” is also encoded in Genesis at a skip distance of 172 letters. However, the word “Shakran”17 (liar) is also encoded in Genesis at a jump of 172. In the Book of Deuteronomy (chapter13, verses7-12), immediately after the section dealing with the appearance of a false prophet, there is a passage describing one who leads people astray into following a false religion. The Torah calls such a person a “Maysit” (one who seduces others to go astray). In the Book of Exodus, “Yeshua”18 is encoded at a skip distance of 172. Yet, the derogatory word “Maysit”19 is also encoded in Exodus at a skip distance of 172; “Yeshua”20 and Maysit”21 are also encoded in Leviticus at a skip distance of 172, as is the encoded word “Mechashaif”22 – sorcerer.
4) As mentioned earlier, Rambsel claims that finding “Yeshua” encoded at the identical skip distance as is another encoded word or phrase proves that the word or phrase must be intimately connected to “Yeshua.” What the Pastor does not disclose is that:
Using the same methodology, we found the phrase “Navi Sheker”- False Prophet – encoded in Genesis five times at the same skip distance as “Yeshua”23. In fact, the encoded words “Yeshua” and “False Prophet” overlap twice24.
It should be evident that we are not saying that one can reach certain conclusions based on these counter “codes.” Nor are any conclusions to be drawn from any of the other examples we found using Rambsel’s “codes methodology” – other than as a method for proving or confirming any belief -Christian or otherwise – Rambsel’s approach and methodology are fatally defective.
Encoding with Matching Number Values
Every letter, and consequently every word, in the Hebrew language has a numerical value (Gematria25). Rambsel found “Yeshua” encoded in the Torah at skip distances equaling the numerical value of Hebrew words with positive connotations. For example, on page 1 of Yeshua and page 222 of The Signature of God, we are shown how “Yeshua Yachol” (Yeshua is able), appears at a skip distance of 521 letters – the same number as the numerical value of the Hebrew word “Eshkar,” which means present or gift. Proof again, it is claimed, that God is encoding positive messages in the Torah about Jesus. What Pastor Rambsel and Grant Jeffrey do not reveal is that, with approximately 300,000 words in the Hebrew language – almost all of them having a numerical value of 800 or less – any given number up until 800, will have roughly 375 Hebrew words whose numerical value will be the same as that given number. Therefore, any skip distance of an encoded word or phrase will have dozens of “positive” words whose numerical value equals that skip distance, and of course dozens of “negative” words as well. Therefore, this method, again, cannot prove anything.
On pages 5-6, for example, Rambsel writes how “Yeshua” appears in the Torah at a skip distance of 138 letters. The numerical value of the phrase “Ben Elohim” – Son of God – is 138. Is Pastor Rambsel correct in saying that this proves the author of the Torah encoded “Yeshua” at jumps of 138 letters to reveal to us that he was the Son of God? Only if God had at least four other similar kinds of Sons. We found the names of Mohammed26 , Krishna27 , Buddha28, Koresh29 (and others) encoded in the Torah numerous times at skip distances of 138.
Pastor Rambsel states that finding “Yeshua” encoded at a skip distance that is equal to the numerical value of another word proves that the words are conceptually connected. What the Pastor does not disclose to the innocent reader is that there are many examples of “Yeshua” encoded at skip distances that equal the numerical value of words with negative connotations.
The numerical value of the Hebrew phrase “Navi Sheker”- False Prophet – is 663(30). “Yeshua” is encoded in the Torah 10 times at a skip distance of 663. The numerical value of the phrase “Mashiach Sheker ” – False Messiah – is 958. “Yeshua” is encoded 7 times in the Torah at a skip distance of 958(31). The numerical value of “Dat Sheker” – False Religion – is 1004. “Yeshua” is encoded in the Torah 13 times at a skip distance of 1004.(32) (33)
Furthermore, the numerical value of the Hebrew word “Klala” – curse – is 165. “Yeshua” is encoded 7 times in the Torah at a jump of 165. The numerical value of the word “Maysit” – one who leads astray – is 510. “Yeshua” is encoded 11 times in the Torah at a jump of 510. The numerical value of the word “Shakran” – liar – is 650. “Yeshua” is encoded 16 times in the Torah at a jump of 650.
If this methodology is valid, then these counter “codes” should obligate the Pastor to accept their theological implications-especially since they were found using his method of codes research.
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 writes34 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.
Statistically Verifiable Torah Codes
Doron Witztum, a Biblical scholar living in Jerusalem, is a world-renowned Codes researcher. When he made some astonishing discoveries, he acted in a responsible manner. He was only interested in determining whether or not his discoveries were valid. He did not mislead the public by running around claiming that he had found Codes proving a particular religious belief. Realizing that the fundamental issue one must address when finding codes is whether or not they are a coincidence, he first showed all of his research to world-class statisticians. After a few years of further research, under the scrutiny of these statisticians, he finally brought his results to the world – renowned Institute of Mathematical Statistics located in Hayward, California. The Institute publishes four different types of mathematical journals. One of them is Statistical Science. Professional scientific and mathematical journals consult with a cadre of world class experts for the purpose of insuring that an article containing a mathematical or scientific flaw is not published in their journal.
Since the implications of Witztum’s experiments were so controversial, validation and subsequent publication of the experiment’s results would only be accomplished if all of the following requirements were met:
In order to be considered valid, the probability of the codes being found at random must be based solely on the letters comprising the encoded words, and the distribution of the letters in the text, and must be totally independent of the meaning of the words or the narrative of the text in which they are found, since “meaning” is subjective.
The words to be searched for must be derivable by a -priori35 specified and repeatable methods.
The probability of the codes being found must be calculated by a-priori, objective, and mathematically precise methods, and must be less than 0.001 (odds of their being accidental must be less than 1 in 1000).
Computation of such probability must be subjected to repeated verification, well-designed control experiments, and, most importantly, to peer-review by objective, qualified mathematicians who fail to find any error in the computations.
Doron Witztum’s “Famous Rabbis” experiment met all of these requirements (The “Yeshua codes” meet none of these requirements). World-class statisticians subjected his successful results to a six-year evaluation and attempted refutation. They were given the programs Witztum used to find these “Torah Codes” and to perform the required control experiments. Witztum’s “Famous Rabbi’s” experiment was finally published in Statistical Science in August 1994. Since its publication over two and a half years ago, world-class statisticians36 and Bible scholars have reproduced and verified these results. Doron Witztum and Harold Gans have succeeded in discovering additional statistically verifiable Codes. They are in the process of submitting them for publication in mathematical journals.
Authentic Codes Methodology – “Famous Rabbis” Experiment
What is the difference between the methodology used in the “FamousRabbis” experiment and what Christian missionaries are using? The methodology employed by Witztum for the “Famous Rabbis” experiment (and his more recent discoveries) relies on a fundamentally different process altogether. It is the specifics of this methodology that makes it even possible (unlike all the “Yeshua” findings) to verify that the “Famous Rabbis” Codes he found were deliberately encoded in the Torah. Although a complete and thorough explanation of the authentic Codes methodology is beyond the scope of this paper, let us briefly state how this unique system works. (More details of the methodology are published in Statistical Science, August 1994 issue).
The Torah Codes were based on selecting the names of many famous rabbis and their respective dates of birth and death. The relationship between the words being searched for was, therefore, objective. To further insure total objectivity, all of the words that were searched for were extracted from an encyclopedia in a way that was specified completely beforehand. Equally spaced encodings of these words were then searched for in a pre-determined and objective way (e.g., the minimum jump). The proximity of each encoding of related words was then measured using an a-priori specified mathematical formula. When you have a very large document, and the related words could appear encoded anywhere in the document, the fact that you find them encoded in close proximity, as we have observed, cannot be reasonably attributed to chance. This can be scientifically demonstrated. The odds of finding these related words accidentally encoded in the Torah, as close as they were, were accurately computed. It is the computation of these odds that enables one to distinguish between random appearances of “codes,” that are nothing more than coincidences, and Codes purposely placed into the document (when the odds against random appearance are at least 1000 to 1). In fact, the odds that were obtained for the “Famous Rabbis” experiment were far greater than this (62,500:1) and were enough to convince world class mathematicians and statisticians to agree to publish the results. The mathematical technique that was used, and the control experiments that were performed, also eliminated any possibility that the effect was caused, in some unexpected way, by the grammatical or syntactical structure of the text itself.
Torah Codes Presentations
Doron Witztum’s “Famous Rabbis” experiment is presented around the world as part of public seminars produced by Aish HaTorah/Discovery, an international organization devoted to Jewish education. Included in the segment on “Torah Codes” are presentations of a variety of examples of encoded word patterns (including a few found by Rabbi Michoel Weissmandl in 1952) that are not statistically verifiable and effectively illustrate the inherent problems involved in identifying authentic Codes. These examples (Sadat, Diabetes, Gulf War, etc.) employ the same methodology as Witztum’s “Famous Rabbis” experiment, but they cannot be verified as valid codes since they did not meet the scientific criteria necessary to conclusively demonstrate their authenticity. This limitation is made clear and they are presented only as a lead-up to, and an explanation of, the methodology used for the “Famous Rabbis” experiment.
The only way to demonstrate that a word pattern is a genuine Code is through an objective mathematical and statistical evaluation. The “Yeshua codes” do not meet any of the fundamental requirements necessary for mathematical validation, and are therefore statistically and mathematically meaningless. The methodology is invalid since it produces illogical and contradictory results. Therefore, all of the “Yeshua codes” are meaningless coincidences and are of no evidential value at all. Proselytizing Jews with these false evidential claims is fraudulent and deceptive, and should cease immediately.
Finally, a picture is worth a thousand words: an open Torah scroll, whose Hebrew letters are clearly visible, appears on the cover of the second edition of Pastor Rambsel’s book “Yeshua.” THE TORAH IS… UPSIDE DOWN
1 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.
2 Doron Witztum is the pre-eminent Codes researcher and author in the world. He has dedicated his professional efforts to the development of advanced techniques for detecting and testing equidistant-interval encryptions in texts. His findings on this subject have been published in Statistical Science – a peer-refereed mathematical journal.
3 Harold Gans was a senior cryptologic mathematician for the United States’ National Security Agency until his retirement after 28 years of service. The agency maintains the world’s most advanced methods, experts and facilities for the detection and decryption of encoded material. He is the author of over 180 technical papers on these subjects and is a world-class expert in evaluating Codes. Presently, he is a mathematical consultant and international lecturer on Codes
4 “Cryptology” is a highly complex subspecialty of advanced mathematics and statistics involving both the making and breaking of codes.
5 The name “Yeshua” has be come widely accepted of late in ongoing Christian missionary efforts directed at Jews as the original Hebrew name of Jesus of Nazareth. It is considered to be a less provocative alternative to “Jesus,” with which potential Jewish proselytes often feel extremely uncomfortable.
6 The search was performed only on the first 78,064 letters, corresponding to the number of letters in Genesis. Searching the first 304,805 letters – the amount of letters in the entire Torah – will yield “Yeshua” over 10,000 times.
7 A complete explanation of the control tests performed on the legitimate Torah Codes can be found in Statistical Science, August 1994.
8 The name “Yishai” is encoded at intervals of 12 starting with the same “Yud” as “Yeshua.” What’s “remarkable” is that the code of “Yishai” is created using the “Shin” of the word “Mashiach”.
9 The encoded “Lenin” starts with the “Lamed” of “V’Livnot. ”
10 This encoded “Lenin” can be found in verse 10 starting with the “Lamed” of “Ochel.”
11 This encoded phrase begins with the 23, 259th letter of Genesis located in chapter 19, at the significant skip distance of -3,220, a multiple of 7.
12 This encoded phrase begins with the 2,058th letter of Genesis located in chapter 2, at the significant skip distance of 613 (the amount of commandments in the Torah).
13 This encoded phrase begins with the 8,029th letter of Leviticus at a skip distance of -419.
14 This encoded phrase begins with the 6,315th letter of Leviticus at a skip distance of 844.
15 The encoded word “Koresh” begins with the 34,303rd letter of Genesis located in Chapter 25.
16 The encoded word “Buddha” begins with the 53,479th letter of Genesis located in Chapter 36.
17 The encoded word “Shakran” begins with the 40,528th letter of Genesis located in Chapter 29.
18 The encoded word “Yeshua” begins with the 60,706th letter of Exodus.
19 The encoded word “Maysit” begins with the 24,350th letter of Exodus.
20 The encoded word “Yeshua ” begins with the 15,137th letter of Leviticus.
21 The encoded word “Maysit” begins with the 5,859th letter of Leviticus.
22 The encoded word “Mechashaif” begins with the 14,008th letter of Leviticus.
23 “Yeshua ” and “False Prophet” are both encoded at the following skip distances in Genesis: 1,061; 4,379; 6,750; 9,831; 11,170.
24 For example, beginning with the 31,343rd letter of Genesis located in Chapter 24 at a jump of +1,061 letters, is the encoded “Yeshua”. Beginning with the 34,771st letter of Genesis located in Chapter 26 at a jump of -1,061 letters, is the encoded “False Prophet “. “Incredibly”, these two codes overlap.
25 In Hebrew, each letter has a corresponding numeric value. The numeric value of Hebrew words or phrases is called “Gematria” – Jewish numerology.
26 The encoded word “Mohammed” begins with the 5,892nd letter of Genesis located in Chapter 5.
27 The encoded word “Krishna” begins with the 15,830th letter of Deuteronomy.
28 The encoded word “Buddha” begins with the 15,432nd letter of Genesis located in Chapter 13.
29 The encoded word “Koresh” begins with the 36,876th letter of Genesis located in Chapter 27.
30 For example, beginning with the 18,365th letter of Genesis located in Chapter 16 is “Yeshua” at a skip distance of 663 letters.
31 For example, beginning with the 19,334th letter of Genesis located in Chapter 17 is “Yeshua” at a skip distance of 958 letters.
32 For example, beginning with the 23,467th letter of Genesis located in Chapter 19 is “Yeshua” at a skip distance of 1,004 letters.
33 The amount of times these three phrases are encoded in the Torah are all Kabbalistically significant numbers.
34 November/December 1996 issue of The Dispatch From Jerusalem titled “Torah Codes: Coincidences or Cryptograms?”
35 A-priori means that you must predict ahead of time what you expect to find before you start looking.
36 Among them is Harold Gans, who replicated and verified the entire “Rabbis” experiment.