What About Torah Codes and ELS?

One question that we have been asked repeatedly ~ over and over ~ is whether or not theomatics has any similarity to the recent discoveries in Israel and elsewhere?

These discoveries have been commonly referred to as "Torah Codes" and "ELS" (Equi-distant Letter Sequences).

Just about everybody out there on the Web, who follows the subjects of Christian evidences, apologetics, Bible prophecy, etc., has heard of these discoveries. The Internet is loaded with hundreds of sites and newsgroups that discuss this.

There is positively no relationship between theomatics and ELS. They are as different as night and day. There is not even the slightest similarity.

Unlike theomatics, ELS is not gematria. It does not utilize the numerical values for the letters of the Hebrew and Greek alphabets, nor does ELS work with the numerical values of words. The other major and significant difference, is the fact is that theomatics is much more provable scientifically. While many scholars and mathematical experts are struggling with the validity of ELS and the "Bible codes," theomatics will provide a mathematically open and shut case. Later on this page we will explain the reason why theomatics is more provable.

A Brief History

In 1958 a Rabbi named Weissmandel observed an unusual phenomenon in the original Hebrew text of the book of Genesis. Upon close examination he found patterns of coded words and phrases buried "beneath" the surface of the book. Because he was unable to pursue this discovery due to lack of computer technology, the study died with him. Some students at Hebrew University examined Weissmandel’s research in 1988 and incorporated computers in the search for these "Torah Codes." Of late, the major player, is an Israeli mathematician by the name of Eliyahu Ripps of Hebrew University, a world-renowed mathematician who formed the original research team along with Doron Witztum and Yoav Rosenberg.

A Brief Description

The investigative research uses an Equidistant Letter Sequence (ELS) analysis method. The technique is relatively straightforward. The Hebrew text is stripped of all of its spaces and entered into the computer as one long string of characters. For example, the entire Book of Genesis becomes a continuous string of 78,064 characters or letters.

If a hidden word in Hebrew such as "Torah" is being looked for in a particular verse, once the first Hebrew letter for Torah is found, the computer searches forward through the text to locate the second letter. When the second letter is located, the distance (in letters) is noted. Let's say the distance between the first and second letters is fifty. The computer then continues through the text at forty-nine letter intervals, and only that interval, and records the letters at those positions to see if they form coherent words or phrases. Of course you have to first know what word you are looking for and ask the computer to look for its first letter to initiate the search.

As the researchers continued their investigation, they began discovering all sorts of words embedded in the text. Most startling were numerous words ~ transliterated into Hebrew ~ that pertained to many well-known historical events and famous people through the centuries, long after Genesis was written.

For example, the researchers took The Encyclopedia of Great Men of Israel and searched for pairs of meaningful entries in proximity to each other. The entries that they searched for were the names of individuals along with their dates of birth or death as listed in the encyclopedia. The dates were specified by the Hebrew day and month. A list was drawn up of all thirty-four men mentioned in the encyclopedia whose date of birth or death was given and whose lives were significant enough. Later, a second list was prepared; it consisted of thirty-two additional men.

The entire process was repeated many times, and the researchers found many matches. When they compared the name/date matches, they found that they were closer together than one would expect on the basis of chance. The results were significant: (p = 0.000016), i.e., 1 chance in 62,500.

The findings were submitted to Statistical Science magazine. This is a peer-reviewed journal that requires that every proposed article be scanned by a number of experts in the field before it is accepted for publication. Because of the incredible nature of the discoveries, the review process took six years to complete. Robert Kass, the editor of Statistical Science, wrote:

Our referees were baffled: their prior beliefs made them think the Book of Genesis could not possibly contain meaningful references to modern-day individuals, yet when the authors carried out additional analyses and checks the effect persisted. The paper is thus offered to Statistical Science readers as a challenging puzzle.

Harold Gans, a former cryptologist (or code breaker) at the U.S. Defense Department and Pentagon, replicated the work of the Jerusalem team. He was able to corroborate their results. He further expanded the original study by finding the names of important Jewish individuals and their cities of birth and death. His "p" value was even more significant.

Michael Drosnin and
The Bible Code

Michael Drosnin was an investigative reporter, formerly with the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. He began an investigation into this story and later became part of the story itself, performing his own research and analysis and working in cooperation with the Israeli investigators at Hebrew University.

Various techniques were used in the analysis. The long string of characters was transformed into large blocks or squares that resemble a crossword puzzle. Once the grid is laid out, it is easy to see where all of the embedded words and skips occur, going in different directions.

The book The Bible Code begins by discussing the assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Drosnin claimed to have uncovered information about the assassination one year before it occurred and tried personally to warn Mr. Rabin. He had previously found embedded in the codes the assassinations of Lincoln, Gandhi, and John F. Kennedy. References to the Gulf War, the collision of a comet with the planet Jupiter, the Oklahoma City bombing, Richard Nixon’s resignation, World War II, the Holocaust, and the fall of Communism were also decoded. The book predicts a cataclysmic earthquake in Los Angeles in 2010 and a nuclear war in Israel before 2001 (taken from the religious tolerance web page).

At last count, The Bible Code has sold over half a million copies and topped the best-seller lists. It is written in an easy-to-read format.

Jeffrey Satinover ~
Cracking the Bible Code

Another book on this subject, was written by Jeffrey Satinover, who is a medical doctor and an MIT and Harvard graduate. It is extremely well-written and thoroughly documents the findings from a scientific perspective. Cracking the Bible Code appears to be a book of substance.

Other Efforts

Another research effort has been carried out by Yacov Rambsel, a Christian Messianic Jew from San Antonio, Texas, in his book YESHUA. The approach Rambsel has taken is not to look for current world events but to find ELS references in the Old Testament to Jesus, Messiah, and all the various attributes of God. He has worked closely with Grant Jeffrey, who has written the best seller The Signature of God and a number of other books, which has brought ELS to the forefront of the premillenial/dispensational evangelical community. Most individuals involved in prophecy ministries are enthusiastic proponents of the ELS discoveries.

Jeffrey describes how the word "Eden" is encoded sixteen times within the short Gen. 2:4-10 passage dealing with the garden of Eden. The odds against sixteen "Edens" occurring by chance in such a short passage is claimed to be 1 in 10,000. Also in Genesis 2, scientists have discovered twenty-five different Hebrew names for trees. The odds against this happening is supposedly 100,000 to 1.

There are a number of other freelancers investigating this and seeking results. However, it will probably be the first efforts that get the lion’s share of the publicity.

Not Everyone Is Jumping Up and Down

Reactions to the Bible code discoveries have been both enthusiastic and cool. Numerous scholars (who still believe in ELS and the codes), have been highly critical of both Drosnin’s method and conclusions.

Numerous others have tried to debunk the findings, particularly Brendan McKay of Australia National University, who has made a career out of trying to debunk all sorts of "egregious" claims.

For example, on one of his web pages, McKay takes a page from Moby Dick (obviously not of Divine inspiration) and, laying out a grid and following the same method as Drosnin, found the following words embedded in various skip intervals.




        HENRI PAUL


Virtually all the hoopla and excitement about the codes, has come from primarily the one statistical study ~ that appeared in Statistical Science. There apparently is not a mountain of data available from other controlled tests. Recently on the web, there has been serious discussion that some critical flaws were discovered from the famous Rabbis experiment, casting doubt on even that investigation. Also, a team of mathematicians, headed up by Brendan McKay, tried to duplicate the famous rabbis experiment. The result was "unambiguously negative. No indication of any extraordinary phenomenon was found."


A large number of scholars and scientists are currently working on the codes to either establish their credibility or put the subject to bed ~ once and for all. There is one web site listing the names of over fifty prominent mathematicians and scientists who have all signed their names to the following statement (http://www.math.caltech.edu/code/petition.html).

There is a common belief in the general community to the effect that many mathematicians, statisticians, and other scientists consider the [ELS] claims to be credible. This belief is incorrect. On the contrary, the almost unanimous opinion of those in the scientific world who have studied the question is that the theory is without foundation. The signatories to this letter have themselves examined the evidence and found it entirely unconvincing.

One of the criticisms is that many of the individuals involved in the research are Jewish academics of high standing ~ either orthodox in their beliefs or sympathetic to Jewish causes. Other proponents are from the evangelical pop culture. Therefore, the proponents must be biased and have a secret religious agenda. They want the discovery to be true and will do everything possible to make sure that it is. This may or may not be a valid criticism.

The Evangelical Backlash

In December 1997, Charisma and Christian Life magazine carried an article on the Bible code. It was intended to be a firm warning to all Christians to stay completely away from the subject. The headline read:


Evangelical theologians have dismissed the idea that the Old Testament contains a Secret Code

The article quoted many well-known evangelical theologians collectively saying that the whole thing was a bunch of rubbish and that "Evangelicals ought not to be so gullible as to buy into this." They equated it with fortune-telling and the occult. In the following month’s issue, the letters-received page printed a half-dozen letters from outraged Christian readers lambasting the magazine for being so biased.

Another reason for the rejection is that most of the research is being done by secular mathematicians. Michael Drosnin claims to not even believe in God but instead believes that some sort of "ancient knowledge" has enabled the Bible to be encoded. That fact, to some degree, warrants caution.

The Most Disturbing Factor

The most disturbing fact is, What if the Bible code really is true? What if God really did do it? Maybe He did? How do we know? If so, the evangelical community is rejecting ~ outright ~ something that God may have divinely and supernaturally implanted, simply because it does not fit into their theological system(s) and method(s) of interpreting the Bible. It is not the traditional grammatical-historical approach.

NOTE: A major review appeared in Christianity Today lambasting the original Theomatics. The magazine’s verdict was that Christians should not take this subject seriously, the article implying that there never has been and never will be any validity to the idea of hidden codes in the Bible.

Sadly, this attitude is the prevailing evangelical consensus toward any and all research into biblical codes. It is an extremely biased demeanor that is not the least bit conducive to the advancement of objective knowledge. People the likes of Hank Hanegraaff of the Christian Research Institute, Josh McDowell, John MacArthur, Jr., and scores of others, have all spoken out and warned Christians to stay completely away from theomatics and the Bible codes.

In reply, the validity of this subject has got nothing to do with theology or historical Christianity. If God put theomatics into the Bible ~ whether or not it agrees with man's theological system(s) or perception of how they think God should operate and communicate His message ~ none of this is relevant. No theological arguments can have an effect on a coded system which may actually exist. The numbers are either present or they are not. So this is not an issue to be decided by feelings or emotions or theological bias. Science is the only determining factor. After the existense issue is determined, then come all the theological implications.

The only valid way to discover whether ELS (or theomatics) is true is to test and retest the data mathematically. Also, in order for ELS to have any practical value, there will need to be major breakthroughs in the operative principles of the letter sequence system. There is an old saying in science, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." That is certainly true here. Again, this is not a theological issue; it is only an issue of existence or nonexistence.

Our Conclusion

Our conclusion is guarded. Only recently, after reading up on the subject and consulting with others, did we come to the conclusion that ELS may perhaps be true. (Note: Our position is still one of extreme skepticism and reservation.) Why in the world would God embed the names of modern-day Jewish rabbis or Timothy McVeigh in the Old Testament? We must admit that even still the whole idea seems incredible. The Yacov Rambsel approach of finding the names and attributes of God and other truths seems far more consistent with the type of thing God might do.

NOTE: Recently on the Internet I found a major web site that provides extensive mathematical evidence that many of Yacov Rambsel’s findings are simply the product of random chance. One such refutation is http://www.aish.edu/issues/biblecodes/jcode1.htm There are enough skip intervals present, to explain his results. If Rambsel’s findings are not statistically significant, then "God" supposedly embedding current-day events seems even less likely.

Yet it appears (according to the proponents) that groups of modern-day words are being discovered in close proximity, defying explanation. In fact, the investigators are claiming that just about every significant event in history is embedded somewhere in the codes. They have also worked on the hypothesis that the entire grid system will eventually go three-dimensional and the amount of data and hidden codes could almost be infinite. Each person, the time of his or her birth and death, the events in his or her life, acceptance or rejection of Christ could all be in there. Some people even suggest that when God completely pulls the wraps off, the very Bible itself will be the book of life mentioned in Revelation 20:12. Every deed done by every person will be embedded in the coded system.

In all honesty, we are not yet ready to swallow this whole idea. But it seems, just like theomatics, if the phenomenon is really in there and it exists at all, where will it end? If God can create one galaxy, he can just as easily create a hundred billion galaxies. Another interesting idea is that God is not limited by time. It is entirely possible that God could have gone forward in time, recorded all the events of history, and then gone back in time and encoded it in the Torah that was handed to Moses.

Please understand that we do not wish to get carried away with all this. But we have seen enough miracles in theomatics as to doubt nothing. Let’s all keep an open mind. If ELS is not true, someone will eventually expose it and it will crumble, or just die out and disappear. If God is the author behind it, He will continue to nourish it at the pace He deems best. More facts will come to light.

There Are Problems

Certain aspects of ELS are highly suspect. The computer is capable of finding just about any possible word(s) with some sort of skip sequence. The only real evidence, according to the investigators, is the fact that so many words seem to be bunched together in close proximity. The other problem is the various ways modern-day words might be spelled in Hebrew. There would be far more word matches in an ancient Hebrew text than in an English text. Since Hebrew is a consonantal language, it is quite flexible in that manner. This approach of using modern nonbiblical words is extremely problematic and suspect.

We have only heard of one major statistical study, and that is the one that appeared in Statistical Science. How many other extensive controlled tests have been performed? Some of the statistic probabilities do not appear to be tremendously significant. They are much, much higher with theomatics. If the world-renowned statisticians who are investigating ELS would turn and examine theomatics, their computers would melt down.

What about Theomatics?

Recently we have been corresponding with a top executive with Chrysler in Detroit who is very interested in pursuing his own research. One of the questions that fascinates him is, What connection is there between ELS and theomatics?

We have spent a lot of thought on this question, and in all honesty, we don’t yet see any connection. It is one of the factors that has made us doubt the validity of ELS. How could both systems operate concurrently and still work? God would have to be an incredible juggler, to say the least. The bases for both systems are radically different.

We have received numerous e-mails from people who want to experiment with the New Testament in order to find ELS. That is not even remotely possible. The New Testament text is so jumbled with variant readings as to render ELS null (see appendix D, Theomatics II). The letter-skipping requires huge stretches of text that are absolutely flawless. However, the textual variants do not affect theomatics to any significant degree, because theomatics does not generally consider phrases more than 4 to 5 words in length.

The worst criticism is that there does not appear to be any purpose or coherent message to the ELS findings. What is the message from God in all this? What about the millions of skip intervals that the researchers have to discard, that do not spell out any words? Apart from a few sparse words here and there, there is no coherent message. Finding the names of modern day Jewish rabbis, has got nothing to do with the fundamental message of God's Word. It should be pointed out that theomatics does not have these problems. Although there is a great deal to be learned, the theomatic system is structured within the entire message of God's Word (with deliberate symbolism), along with all the numbers mentioned openly in the text.

Another Major Observation

Theomatics was discovered over twenty years ago. Some who may be thoroughly overwhelmed by the evidence, may ask, "Why has the ELS phenomenon received so much attention and publicity in the media and theomatics, basically ignored? This is a fairly easy question to answer. There are two reasons.

First, the ELS discoveries created a lot of excitement long before Michael Drosnin’s book. Numerous scholars all over the world were involved in the investigation. For the past decade word has been slowly leaking out about the research, and hundreds of small articles have been written in newspapers and publications all over the world. There was a groundswell of excitement already in place. The number of people working on theomatics, has been quite limited. It’s not that the subject is not true; others are simply not involved in the effort ~ particularly those of academic standing and means. If that were to change, it would make a huge difference.

The other, very significant reason, is that theomatics confronts people with unpleasant issues, such as the fact that man is a sinner and needs to repent. Sinful man does not want to think about the accountability factor. You cannot understand the eternal things of God until a right relationship is established with the Creator. Repentance and faith must preclude knowledge.

Today, it is not politically correct to tell people that they are sinners, that they need to repent and submit to God’s will. Therefore, the realm of God’s Spirit and the things that are heavenly, spiritual, and eternal, is a dimension of reality that very few people will understand ~ only those whose consciences have been exercised (Heb. 5:14). The implications of theomatics, by nature, are not the type of thing most people are generally thinking about or truly interested in. Most individuals look at everything in a temporal, earthly manner. ELS can appeal to our mystical and occultic fallen nature ~ to know and understand (and eventually control) the future. One major reason Drosnin’s book took off is that fact. That is also why Hal Lindsey has sold millions of books. God is strictly against that approach. People are much more inclined to put their hands into the cookie jar if it has been placed off limits. Today, sin sells; righteousness does not.

A new book by an evangelical publisher, Decoding the Bible Code, attempts to show that the entire ELS system is a form of spiritual deception. This is a distinct possibility. If so, then the supposed scientific data supporting ELS would be either a fraud or some sort of self-induced delusion the proponents have fallen into.

The Publicity Has Helped

All in all, the publicity surrounding ELS and the Torah codes has been extremely helpful for theomatics. People are being softened up to the possibility that,"Hey, maybe God did do something like this." People everywhere are starting to think about codes in the Bible. Even if the wheels eventually come off the ELS wagon, God has no doubt had a purpose in it. I don’t know how far the wave will carry theomatics, but I certainly won’t complain.

If ELS is eventually proven to be true and universally established, we will be surprised. If it is eventually debunked, we will not be disappointed.


Why Theomatics is a Much More Provable Phenomenon

While the experts are all wrestling with the validity of ELS, theomatics will provide a mathematically open and shut case. The reason will be very obvious to anyone familiar with the progressive steps of the scientific method. The tragedy here, is that both the proponents and skeptics of ELS are spending countless hours chasing something that may never be validated, while at the same time they are ignoring the one thing that is spectacularly provable ~ right under their very noses.

In order to adequately test a subject scientifically, in a pure manner, four requirements are essential.

  • The item(s) to be tested must be clearly measurable and definable.
  • The hypothesis must be testable according to established controls.
  • The tests and experiments must be repeatable.
  • The outcome and final result must ultimately be consistent and predictable. 

It is impossible for ELS to comply with all of the above, particularly item number one. Theomatics can easily meet the above requirements. Here is the reason.

There is an old saying in war, that you cannot fight the battle against the enemy unless you can define who the enemy is. In the science of statistics, this axiom is true as well; you cannot accurately calculate the mathematical probability of an event, unless you know in advance all possibilities and all possible outcomes. Everything must be measurable and definable ~ in advance ~ before a valid experiment can be performed.

The major problem with ELS is the fact that you can theoretically find anything anywere. It is impossible to measure or define the limitations. Right now the ELS math wizards and skeptics, it seems, spend the majority of their time debating how the experiment is suppposed to be conducted. What will convince some does not convince others.

Take for example the Oklahoma City bombing. Where does that appear in the Torah? Answer? We don't know. So we are now going to go and search the entire Torah, hoping to find it somewhere.

  • How many possible ELS's are there? There are literally millions of skip intervals possible depending at which position or letter one starts at, then skips forwards, backwards, etc., (there are almost 400,000 letters in the Torah). There also are numerous ways that the grid can be laid out. We'll call this variable number 1.
  • Now what word are we going to look for? Let's start with the two most obvious ones, "bomb" and "McVey." So now we successfully find one of them somewhere in the Torah, out of all the possibilities. We'll call that variable number 2.
  • Next question is this. How many ways are there to spell bomb or McVey in Hebrew? I don't know for sure, but I can assure you there are many possible. This is number 3.
  • Now comes the significant part. How many words are there to describe the Oklahoma City Bombing? There are many hundreds possible. Here are just a few right off the top of my head, i.e. variable number 4.

Bomb, Timothy, McVey, explosion, big boom, collapse, smoke, dark cloud, Murrah, Oklahoma, fertilizer, truck, truck bomb, rental, Ryder, fuse, fire, death, America, heartland, weeping, panic, blood, federal, ATF, Waco, Branch Davidian, revenge, Terry, Nichols, conspiracy, children dying, various street names, name of judge, prosecutor, victims names, etc. etc.

  • Now where in the text are we going to find each of these hundreds of possible words? Not only do we not know what words might pop up, but we do not even know where the skip intervals start or how many possibilities there are. Nor do we know all the possible ways to spell the various words in Hebrew. So mathematically, there are literally millions of potential possibilities. This is variable number 5.

Now this is just the reason why the probability experts are having a very difficult time with ELS. The proponents are saying that they are finding way more than the expected number by sheer chance, within a close proximity. The people who did the original Statistical Science study have worked out some very elaborate calculations to establish the p factor. But the truth is that 98% of all mathematicians who have looked at ELS, remain unconvinced. No scientific test has nailed the coffin lid shut on the dissenters. The fact that there are at least five fundamental variables (or wiggle room) in all the above, is what makes it a daunting task at determining fact from fiction. Again, there is no possible way to determine in advance of performing any test, what all the possibilities are. That is why other's have successfully located ELS in other Hebrew (and English) works of literature, and claim to have found similar prolific results.

NOTE: The famous rabbis experiment did list the possibilities before the experiment. But there is already great debate over how the selection was made. The method(s) can be extremely arbitrary, thus the results may not be duplicated by others working independently (see http://www.math.caltech.edu/code/petition.htm).

Now Comes Theomatics

With theomatics, we have few of the testing problems that are present with ELS. All four of the hard core rules can be easily and consistently applied to testing the theomatics hypothesis. We can define all possibilities in advance of performing any experiment, and then arrive at an accurate probability within a controlled environment.

Theomatics Meets the Test

Let us see how Theomatics specifically meets the requirements for being scientific, as it was defined earlier.

  • The item(s) to be tested must be clearly measurable and definable

With theomatics, the subject is clearly definable. Each letter in the Hebrew and Greek alphabets has an exact and predetermined numerical value. This value is always the same and never changes: alpha always = 1, beta always = 2, sigma always = 200, omega always equals 800, etc.

Similarly, each word has a precise value based upon the fixed number and identity of the letters that compose it. Jesus always = 888. This never changes. Kosmos always = 600. This also never changes. The numerical value for every word in the Bible is cast in concrete.

There is also one standard text for both the Hebrew and Greek. So not only are all the words predeterminate, but the foundational base from which all the words and phrases are extracted is predetermined also. The database for the entire Bible is fixed.

Not only are all the above fixed, we can also write down every possible reference to a specific word or topic before commencing a test. The theomatics research software is able to take every possible reference and calculate every possible phrase combination present. Therefore, we can accurately define all mathematical possibilities in advance. We know what the boundaries are.

  • The hypothesis must be testable according to established controls.

In this case, the hypothesis is that there is some sort of "Divine design" or non-random structure inherent within these numerical values ~ patterns exist that go way beyond what would be expected if the numbers were simply random (and there also exists no "natural cause" explanation for the phenomenon). The basic claim of theomatics is that these standard and traditional numerical values produce results that are unique and special, i.e. that a deliberate and inherent design was placed in the text ~ based upon this code.

In testing the hypothesis, the results of theomatics ~ when they apply to the parameters of distinct and non-arbitrarily selected categories ~ can be compared side by side with values that are known to be random. If there is no significance to the former, then the same average results should be easily obtained with the random values. See Page, Scientific Proof of the Discovery.

  • The tests and experiments must be repeatable.

The experiment or test described above can be repeated over and over again for an unlimited number of times. Each test could compare the theomatic results with a different set of random variables, and probability calculations could be performed to determine how far the theomatic results moved away from the null hypothesis (expected result that is statistically meaningless).

  • The outcome must ultimately be consistent and predictable.

The results are predictable. By repeating many experiments over and over, definite and predictable trends within theomatics become self-evident. Calculations can also be performed to figure the the actual probability (or "p factor") of the final outcome versus what the "expected" results should be if the numbers were occurring at random.


Return to Homepage

Contact Theomatics Research: Inquire@theomatics.com

Copyright © 1999 Theomatics.com All rights reserved.