Jesus Codes: Uses and Abuses (Part I)

Paper Authors:

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 the late 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.

  • Rabbi 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.
  • Dr. Doron Witznum 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.
  • Dr. Harold Gans was a senior cryptologic mathematician for the United States' National Security Agency (NSA) 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.

Introduction

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.

Codes Definition

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 subject 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.

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