Skeptics' Criticisms Lead to
Discovery of Much Longer Code
Revision of article first published in 2005.
Leading code skeptics Brendan McKay and David Thomas thought they had torpedoed an Associated Press story about a code finding by Bible Code Digest (BCD). They had made quick work of it. For several years, we ignored their attack, seeing their arguments as so faulty as to be self-evident to most discerning readers.
In 2004, a reader's e-mail again raised the same issue McKay and Thomas had. We realized it was an issue that warranted further investigation. To our astonishment, our earlier 22-letter-long code find using Bible Codes 2000 software turned into a 40-letter-long code using CodeFinder. Further, the content of the longer code fit its context with thorough appropriateness.
The code on which Associated Press had reported read:
Gushing from above, Jesus is my mighty name, and the clouds rejoiced.
This 22-letter-long code appeared in the highly controversial passage of Isaiah 53, with a skip of minus 20 (-20). McKay and Thomas had noted that in some Hebrew texts, the last letter of this code would be different, because of a letter difference in verse 5. "With only 21 letters it falls apart," concluded McKay.
When we examined this code using CodeFinder, however, the final code that emerged was 40-letters-long. It reads:
Gushing from above, Jesus is my mighty name, and my clouds rejoiced.
Where? At the mountain, said Levi. Their light came. God is in it.
Bible code proponents and skeptics are famous for jumping to conclusions. Drosnin would seize on the shakiest of evidence and attempt to proclaim some warning to a world leader. Often code skeptics are in a similar class. Leaping to a desired conclusion is emotionally satisfying, but the advancement of human knowledge is typically sacrificed.
For years, we have received a few e-mails regarding the 22-letter code, which reads, Gushing from above, Yeshua is my mighty name, and the clouds rejoiced. Alternatively, the middle section of the code could also be translated, My mighty name arises upon Yeshua. These e-mails came from readers who had tried to find the code using CodeFinder software and were unable to do so. We had used Bible Codes 2000 software to find the code. In the Correspondence section of our August 2004 issue, we noted that the reason for this was a one letter difference in the fifth verse of Isaiah 53 between the Hebrew texts scanned by the two versions of the software.
While this explanation was probably sufficient to resolve the concerns of many of our readers, the letter difference was used as an occasion for two prominent code skeptics to jump to hasty conclusions about the validity of our findings. On page 10 of NMSR.org, Dave Thomas wrote the following in response to an Associated Press story (dated September 30, 2000) about our finding:
On October 17th, I contacted Bible Code expert Brendan McKay in Australia about the "stunning" new code. McKay told me "Funniest thing about it is that the supposed 22-letter ELS does not actually exist. I tried 4 different editions of Isaiah and all of them have the last required letter out of place by one. With only 21 letters it falls apart (plural changes to singular then the verb doesn't match, etc.). Also, the Hebrew is appalling, according to my Israeli friends. In any case you can read the same sequence of letters in lots of ways . . ."
McKay supplied some actual alternative translations of the sentence in question, including adding a letter at the beginning with the right skip. These translations are far from what was claimed by Jacobi and Sherman, so far, in fact, that I chose not to present them so as not to offend our Christian browsers. At any rate, it appears this latest "stunning" Bible Code confirmation falls short of the mark, once again.
What is astonishing is the obviously invalid reasoning exercised by Dr. McKay in his statement. One would think that a noted professor of computer science would be more careful in his thinking, but the eagerness with which many code skeptics jump to conclusions is quite revealing. First, Dr. McKay draws the conclusion that the code "does not actually exist" because he couldn't find it in four different editions of the Isaiah text that he had available. To reach that conclusion, the venerable professor had to make the assumption that he is the proprietor of all respectable Hebrew texts of the book of Isaiah. His assumption is false, since the Koren version used by the Bible Codes 2000 software we used is well regarded by Hebrew scholars. Evidently, Dr. McKay believes that God would only encode the texts he possesses, and not other well regarded Biblical texts. For a man who does not believe in God, this is a rather strange thing to assume.
Next, Dr. McKay makes another unsupportable leap: "With only 21 letters it falls apart (plural changes to singular then the verb doesn't match, etc.)." While the appropriate thing to suppose is that the revised code likely would be different, somehow McKay didn't want to miss an opportunity to arrive at his desired conclusion.
After mulling over McKay's assertion, it occurred to us that he had not considered another possibility: that the code might be longer if one of these alternative texts had been searched. So we did the search using CodeFinder. To our amazement, a 40-letter long code emerged from the string:
Gushing from above, Yeshua is my
mighty name, and my clouds rejoiced.
Where? At the mountain, said Levi.
Their light came. God is in it.
Notice that the clouds rejoiced changes to my clouds rejoiced at the end of the 21-letter-long code that remained after removing the last letter of the 22-letter-long code we reported. So, contrary to McKay's assertion, the string that is one letter shorter than the one we presented is also an acceptable code with a very similar translation to the earlier code. Furthermore, the new 21-letter-long code is followed by a 19-letter-long code. So the net effect of the criticism of these two code skeptics was that it motivated us to look for, and find, a longer code.
Getting back to McKay's remarks, we note that next engaged in a surprising act of weak scholarship. He asserts, "Also, the Hebrew is appalling, according to my Israeli friends." So we are to believe his assertion, even though we are not told either the identity or the credentials of any of McKay's friends.
Are we to ignore the credentials of Dr. Jacobi? Jacobi was educated in Israel, and has lived in France, Israel and the United States. Since 2006, he has returned to living in Israel. He states,
I received a Ph.D. in Physics from Weizman Institute of Science in Rehovot, an M.Sc. in Physics, and a B.Sc. in Mathematics from Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan. In graduate school, I served as an interpreter (from English to Hebrew) of courses taught at the Weizman Institute of Science.
As a college professor with more than 30 years of research, development and scientific computing in applied physics, aerospace and geophysics, I've taught atomic and molecular physics, quantum mechanics, college algebra, trigonometry and analysis, analytic geometry and calculus—in Israel and the U.S.
To read more about Dr. Jacobi's life and credentials see an Interview with Dr. Jacobi.
Continuing on, McKay then states, "In any case you can read the same sequence of letters in lots of ways . . ." What is omitted is the real question that should be answered: "What translation consists of the best Hebrew?" It would seem that McKay is so eager to discredit Bible codes that he is willing to make assertions that appear to support his case, even though they ignore the real questions at hand.
Dave Thomas concludes his review by stating that the "latest 'stunning' Bible code confirmation falls short of the mark, once again." Yet, "falling short of the mark" seems a fitting description of the critique he and McKay offered.
"My clouds rejoiced" vs. "the clouds rejoiced"
We will first look at the end of the old 22-letter-long code and how it changed. Does the ending of the 21-letter code make more or less sense? Is there any difference in possible meaning between the clouds rejoiced and my clouds rejoiced?
Clouds have long been a symbol of the presence of God (c.f., Psalm 18:9-12, 68:4, 104:3 and 148:8). In Exodus 13:21-22, the Lord guided the children of Israel by a pillar of cloud in the day.
In Daniel 7:13-14, the prophet tells of a vision of a messianic figure:
In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
Luke 21:27 echoes this imagery: "At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory."
In Hebrews 12:1-2, cloud is used in an interesting way:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Given the above passages, clouds could easily be seen as referring to a large group of people and/or angels in heaven. In this sense, having clouds rejoice makes sense naturally. Given that interpretation, changing the clouds rejoiced to my clouds rejoiced shifts this group of heavenly people/angels from a general group to one that belongs to Jesus.
The code my clouds rejoiced appears in three verses in Isaiah 53:
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. Isaiah 53:5-7
The English translations of the Hebrew words where the letters of the code "my clouds rejoiced" appear above in bold. Christians commonly believe that this passage prophesies the redemption of believers by the great suffering and sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. In this sense then, a large number of people in heaven are clearly his, so that the possessive form my is completely fitting. It is interesting that the very verses where my clouds rejoiced describe this process of redemption, or purchase, of these people by the suffering servant, whom Christians believe is Jesus.
Continue to Uncovering the Tapestry
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