The Power of Foolish Things
By Ed Sherman

To our knowledge, no one has put forth any verses of the Bible, either in the Old or New Testaments, that are direct references to the existence of Bible codes.

The next question that may reasonably be asked is, “Are there any verses in the Bible that are sensible candidates for indirect references to Bible codes?” In this article, we present a review of several that have been suggested. Though none of them could legitimately be said to be compelling, several are quite intriguing. These passages fall into two types: 1) Those that beg the possibility of codes as one viable solution to a dilemma posed by a literal verse; and 2) Those describing things possibly analogous to codes.

We present these possibilities for your enjoyment, and to stimulate your thinking. They certainly should not be viewed as dogma.

Daniel 12:1-4, 9 is an intriguing passage about the end times. It reads,

    At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge….. He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end.

All sorts of questions are raised by Daniel 12. How are people’s names “written in the book?” What is “the book?” How did Daniel “close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end?” While this passage could be referring to something entirely different, who is to say that it isn’t talking about Bible codes? Codes seem like a viable solution to the mysteries raised in this passage.

Another seemingly related verse is Psalm 139:16, where David is quoted as saying: “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (NIV) The Hebrew word for “your book” () appears only once in the entire Hebrew Bible, so a review of how it is used in other passages is not possible. The shorter, related Hebrew word () appears numerous times, often as a direct reference to the “book of the Torah.” So it would be quite natural to think that “your book” could be a direct reference to the Torah and perhaps the entire Tanakh. Our Hebrew consultant, Dr. Jacobi, informs us that it may also refer to a person’s lifetime.

If “your book” refers to the Tanakh, is it true that the Tanakh includes a description of “all the days ordained for” David? Even though substantial sections of it include a description of his life, the literal narrative perhaps falls short of detailing all of David’s days. Would it really be a stretch to suggest that information encoded about the rest of David’s life would make up at least some of the details?)

A third passage that seems to beg the possibility of more information being in the Bible than is presented in the literal text is II Timothy 3:16-17:

    “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The Bible is a fascinating, challenging, exciting book, no question about it. In some instances, it applies more than one meaning to its voice, especially in prophetic passages. The terms “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” have tremendous significance to Christians desiring to know how the Bible is to be applied to their new lives. But perhaps they have a secondary meaning that relates to mysteries of the Bible—mysteries like codes.

Although most general readers of the Bible might find them emphatically not “useful,” lengthy genealogies of highly obscure people, most or all of whom are not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, are valued highly by scholars for their historicity. Bible codes extractable from such genealogies and surrounding passages can certainly add something “useful.” But we must ask, “In what way?” relative to one of those four purposes.

Some Possibilities

While at first it appears there is no good affirmative answer to that question, a review of the Greek words for a few of those purposes does suggest some possibilities. The Greek word for correcting, epanorthosis, literally means “a restoration to an upright or right state.” (The Expanded Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 233). To the extent that the acknowledged existence of real Bible codes might some day “correct” the view that the Bible was merely written by ordinary humans, codes could arguably be seen as fulfilling that purpose.

If Bible codes convince people that the Bible is indeed the work of God, and they begin to study it and apply its principles to their lives, they would msot definitely begin to realize a restoration and uprightness.

A second Greek word in the II Timothy 3:16-17 list of purposes (elegmos) is translated above as rebuking. Will the reality of codes some day “rebuke” those who deny the possibility of the Bible’s super-human authorship?

Vine’s notes that elegmos (a reproof) appears in some Greek manuscripts as “elenchos, which denotes a proof, proving, test.” Undeniably, many code proponents see codes as a form of proof, so they could be viewed as fulfilling that cited purpose.

In the Last Days?

The third chapter of II Timothy begins with the context of being “in the last days.” Is it possible that Paul could have been speaking to Timothy prophetically as the type of a last days person of faith to whom it would become true that “all Scripture is useful,” in part because of some purpose fulfilled by the discovery of codes?

While II Timothy 3:16-17 asserts the “usefulness” of all Scripture, Jesus perhaps went even further than that in asserting that every “jot and tittle” of Scripture was somehow critical:

    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Matthew 5:17-18 (New International Version)

Two of the smallest Hebrew letters, Yod and Vav, are well known to be used optionally in correct spellings in the Bible. For example, in I and II Samuel David is consistently spelled without a Yod, while it is consistently spelled with a Yod in I and II Chronicles. Was Jesus saying that that the omission of some of these “optional” letters would somehow impede the purposes of God? The inclusion or omission of such optional letters doesn’t change the meaning of the literal text, but it can have a major impact on the presence or absence of ELSs.

Another passage that could be taken to suggest the possibility of codes is I Corinthians 1:26-29:

    Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

Bible codes are inherently very foolish things. When I first began investigating the whole phenomenon, I was strongly inclined to entirely reject it out of hand purely because I had great difficulty in imagining that God would do something so ridiculous. Who needs codes as long as the literal text is sufficient in its content? Why would God embed messages that could be:

    —Distorted by people who could potentially change the meaning by choosing different places to insert spaces between words?
    —Either true or false depending on who is speaking, without any clear way of identifying who the speaker is?
    —Possibly be nothing more than the result of random rearrangements of letters, and thus purely a product of chance?
    —Something other than what was intended because the search text differed in only small ways from the original text—due to transcription errors?

In spite of all these reservations, I tried to retain an open mind, in large part because of Isaiah 55:8: “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.” I realized that my way of looking at codes might not bear any correspondence to God’s view of them.

Codes are among the lowly things of the world at least in part because they are not directly visible in a literal text. In a real sense they are “things that are not.” Is it possible that some day the wise and strong of this world might be shamed into acknowledging the validity of codes, as I Corinthians 1:27 states, in spite of the fact that to do so would overturn their view of the world? In other translations “shame” is translated as “confound,” which would seem more fitting to what codes may some day be acknowledged to have done to many intellectuals and skeptics.

It is intriguing that the “things” that God would use to confound the wise is in the neuter gender, even though verse 26 starts out with an example referring to people. This suggests that verses 27-29 may well be referring to neuter objects rather than to people.

It is also curious that in the same passage, just a few verses earlier, Paul notes that “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom.” (I Corinthians 1:22). Much of the potential appeal of Bible codes is as a sign of the miraculous to the Jews. And there is a widespread hunger among Greeks (i.e., non-Jews) for a kind of hidden, or esoteric, wisdom, that might be satisfied by Bible codes.

It may strike us as odd that God might choose to also use hidden things when the direct literal message of the Bible itself should be more than sufficient to accomplish His purposes. Curiously, Proverbs 25:1 states, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter.” Would not the concealment of much in the form of Bible codes for nearly two millennia, and its later revelation, bring “glory to God?” How could “foolish things” impart such glory? Nevertheless, Paul asserted exactly that in I Corinthians 1:27-29.

* * * * *

To date the most extensive collection of lengthy Bible codes is centered around Ezekiel 37:1-10, the prophetic passage about the valley of dry bones that come to life. That passage reads as follows:

    The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

    I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”

    Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

    So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

    Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

It has been suggested that this literal passage could in part be an extensive, multi-faceted analogy to Bible codes. For instance:

Intriguingly, a very pronounced mosaic appears in Ezekiel 35:6-39:1 made up of ELSs for the Hebrew word for bone (). While 651 such ELSs are expected by chance (with skips from 2 to the maximum of 3,106), 864 actually appear. In other words, 213 more bone ELSs ( or 32.6% more) appear in this section than expected by chance. Perhaps some of this is explainable in terms of different letter frequencies in various sections of this passage, but a sizeable portion of that excess is not due to such differences.

Later in Ezekiel 37, in verses 16-17, reference is made to sticks of wood upon which messages are written. Could such sticks also be references to ELSs? The possibilities for analogies from this passage seem to be greater than what chance would dictate. Nevertheless, the problem is that there is no objective way of deciding whether such analogies were intended or not. We thus present it as a noteworthy conversation piece for entertainment purposes.

* * * * *

Hebrews 4:12 is an interesting verse that reads, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow.”

In Vine’s, it is noted that “double-edged” (distomos) literally means “two-mouthed” (dis, two, and stoma, a mouth). Many students of the Bible have noted that its text can be viewed from multiple levels. In other words, the Bible’s content may in some cases be taken literally while at the same time its symbolic meanings imply something quite distinct on another level. In this sense, the “word of God” may sometimes speak with two mouths. This is not in the sense of double talk, or of contradicting itself, and not as Indians sometimes said in TV westerns, with a “forked tongue,” but as being simultaneously true in different contexts. The question is, could “two-mouthed” be a reference to the voice of the literal text as well as the voice of underlying encoded messages? Is it possible that “distomos” has been translated as “double-edged” in part because “two-mouthed” did not heretofore make sense?

In some passages the sword has been a symbol of the tongue and of spoken words. Consider the following:

    Their tongue is a sharp sword. (Psalm 57:4)

    My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords. (Psalm 55:20-21)

We wonder whether or not it is a coincidence that many codes appear in the shape of a sword in two-dimensional arrays.

The ultimate question is, “Are we on to something, or is all this just the product of an over-active imagination?”

We hope that you have enjoyed this tour into a variety of speculative takes on possible indirect references to codes from the literal text. Let us know what your take is on any of the above takes (our ideas), as well as any other examples you might want to propose.

One closing thought: while none of the passages cited above presents evidence clearly supporting the idea that the existence of codes was anticipated in some way in the literal text of the Bible, the fact that a number of passages could be construed in that direction moves that notion out of the category of the “far-fetched” and into the realm of the plausible.

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The Bible Code Digest is published by a group of scientists and writers dedicated to a search for the truth. Our goal is provide accurate, unbiased reporting of news about cutting edge Bible code research conducted by our own group as well as by other credible researchers. We endeavor to report on the significant findings of Jewish, Christian and secular researchers, regardless of their views regarding the potential validity of some Bible codes. We do not necessarily agree with viewpoints expressed in news items and articles by contributors.

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