This is the main web site which examines the Bible Codes
(also called Torah Codes) from the point of view of the
mathematicians and other experts who have examined them
A brief summary of the codes claims is that the Hebrew text
of the Bible (especially of the Torah, the first five books)
contain intentional coincidences of words or phrases that appear
as letters with equal spacing. More details of the claims
from the Jewish point of view can be found
here, and from the
Christian point of view here.
Both those sites present a pro-codes viewpoint.
A brief summary of the result of our very extensive investigation
is that all the alleged scientific evidence for the codes is bunk.
This page presents much of the evidence for that assertion.
The famous rabbis experiment
The most serious claim of scientific evidence for the Codes
was made by three Israelis: Doron Witztum, Eliyahu Rips, and
Yoav Rosenberg (WRR). They
claim that biographical information about medieval rabbis is
"encoded" in the Hebrew text of Genesis.
Specifically, the rabbis' names and other appellations are claimed
to be encoded closer to their dates of birth and death than
should be expected by chance.
WRR's "experiment" appeared
in the respectable journal Statistical Science in 1994.
WRR's paper (abridged)
- The first serious attack on WRR's paper was published by
mathematicians Dror Bar-Natan and Brendan McKay. They found
that a small change in the choice of appellations
for the famous rabbis can lead to War and Peace performing just
as well as Genesis. The final edition
of this work is accompanied by an extremely detailed disproof of
Witztum's alleged refutation.
- In May 1998, a semi-technical presentation of the case against
the famous rabbis experiment was published in Chance, a magazine of
the American Statistical Association. The authors are Maya Bar-Hillel,
Dror Bar-Natan, and Brendan McKay. The paper is available here in
or PDF format.
- The discovery of a recording of a lecture given by Eliyahu Rips
about 1985 cast doubt on the official history of the famous rabbis
experiment. A transcript and some analysis
- Finally, an extensive refutation of the famous rabbis experiment,
and of many other alleged experiments, was published by the same
journal that published WRR's paper. The paper, by Brendan McKay,
Dror Bar-Natan, Maya Bar-Hillel, and Gil Kalai, appeared in the
May 1999 issue of Statistical Science (printed in September).
It is available here together with
frequently updated discussion.
- An amusing look at the flexibility of
Other claims by WRR or Gans, and our replies
Several other papers of WRR exist, though none have been
published in journals. More claims continue to appear regularly
(especially here). Given our
demolition of all of WRR's early work, we do not feel obliged to
answer every new claim. Nevertheless, some of the claims have
been answered by us in detail.
- One of the earliest codes "experiments" claiming a tiny probability
was the "25 trees" experiment of Eliyahu Rips.
Read what our analysis discovered.
- A major unpublished experiment of Witztum et al concerns the
70 nations of the world listed in Genesis 10. Dror Bar-Natan,
Brendan McKay, and Shlomo Sternberg studied the experiment
exhaustively and concluded that the very strong result is
primarily due to illicit data manipulation.
Our evidence is presented in a paper available from
WRR's original paper is included in the interests of fairness.
A brief summary of the
refutation is also available.
- An apparently objective experiment was described by Doron
Witztum on Israeli television, but when we tried it, it didn't work.
Our report, available here also
explains how such experiments can be constructed by trickery.
- The holiday of Chanukah has been a favourite topic of Witztum
for a long time. We have shown a very large
cluster of Chanukah-related words in War and Peace. Witztum's
reply and our rejoinder are available
- Harold Gans, a retired employee of the National Security Agency,
has an unpublished report of an experiment using the cities of
birth or death of the famous rabbis. The most important part of
the experiment (the data) was given to him by an Israeli associate of
Doron Witztum. We tried repeating this experiment ourselves, taking
the data exactly as it appears in the two encyclopedias Gans
claims to use, and it
Even more seriously,
two careful replications
attempted by a committee of supporters and skeptics, using
data compiled by independent experts, could not find the
slightest trace of codes.
- One of our favourite reactions to WRR's "experiments" is to
produce similar-looking "experiments" in War and Peace. Examples are
We have performed many independent scientific tests of the
Bible Codes claims. All of them failed to detect anything not
easily explained by random chance.
These experiments are not to be confused with the demonstrations
of trickery that we have constructed in War and Peace.
A summary of our major experiments can be found in our
paper in Statistical Science.
These experiments include:
- The famous rabbis experiment, replacing the day and month
of birth or death (all that WRR used) by the year, or by
the day and month written in other legal manners.
Similarly, the dates can be replaced by the names of
famous books or by the cities of birth or death.
- The famous rabbis experiment, with the data prepared by
an independent expert. Several variations were performed,
including a detailed re-enactment of WRR's experiment in
the manner they claim it was performed.
- An experiment with the names and dates of birth or death of
Israeli presidents, prime-ministers, and Knesset speakers.
All of those experiments, and all the other experiments we have
conducted, failed to find any "codes" above chance levels.
Our opinions page presents a selection
of opinion articles by noted experts. For example, mathematician
Professor Barry Simon gives convincing reasons for rejecting the
claims of the codes proponents and even designed a serious experiment
to be sure. Noted Bible scholars Professor Menachem Cohen and
Professor Jeffery Tigay explain why the history of the Bible text
makes it implausible that codes exist today even if they existed in the
original text. Also, there is a public statement of more than 50
professional mathematicians and statisticians who have studied the
evidence and found it lacking.
We now have the first part of a new
article by Professor Menachem Cohen
about the codes business and the people who support it.
Michael Drosnin's books
The book "The Bible Code" by Michael Drosnin has been the most
successful mass-market book about the Torah Codes.
Alas, all semblence of scientific method is missing, and all of
the important codes proponents have disowned him.
By repeated examples, we prove that Drosnin did not find anything
that can't be found in any book, even in English.
The center-piece of the book is a "prediction" of the
assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
- Ever since the work of Witztum and Rips became known, claims
have been made that messages of Christian theological relevance
can be also found in the Hebrew text.
Most of these claims have little merit due to lack of any
The only scientific experiment we are aware of, by Jim Ober, Guy
Cramer, and Lori Eldridge, failed to find any statistical evidence
that the name of Jesus is encoded in the passages of the Hebrew
Bible regarded as messianic prophesies. Their report can be
- Some of the Hebrew and English texts used for codes experiments
and demonstrations, plus some information about programs, can
be found here.
- Some photos and brief biographies of codes people can
be found here.
- A film Secrets of the Bible Code Revealed,
by Grizzly Adams Productions, is reviewed
- If humans really wanted to encode messages as ELSs, they
could do much better than anyone has
yet claimed for the Bible.
- A Belorussian translation of this page can be found
Back to the Mathematical Miracles page
Creator: Brendan McKay,