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on 16 January 1998
Satinover's book, introducing us to the Bible/Torah Codes, is a well-written weavework of, as he sees it, related areas of research such as Jewish religious tradition and history, cryptology, computing, statistics, lunar month computations, the ninth of Ab, and even quantum physics.
In his book, he also addresses the problem of the many amateur "debunkers" who find "codes" in other texts - and who do not use the same rigorous methodology or standards employed by researchers such as Witztum or Diaconis. It is fascinating to see reviews by people who claim to have read his book but still do not understand that the Torah Codes phenomenon is not just about skipping letters to see what you can find. Any text - and, perhaps, a thousand monkeys with ELS software - can yield ELSs in the basic sense, but what is unique about the Torah Codes is the statistical strangeness and improbability as described in Satinover's book, the stringent criteria employed, and the fact that the ELS features in the Torah were not uncovered AFTER THE FACT, but actually PREDICTED BEFOREHAND. Perhaps a re-reading of this book is in order before you start loading in the Hebrew translation of "Great Expectations."
For example, one researcher predicted the AHRN cluster just because it seemed suspicious that Aaron was not mentioned in a passage where he was of prime importance, except in the context of "sons of Aaron." Another is the prediction that they would find the names of all the fruit trees indigenous to Israel in the passage about the Garden of Eden, where no names of trees are given. This is a different kind of ELS phenomenon altogether. Finding ELSs about assassinations and such in texts after the fact, picking and choosing results, etc. are not fair game in serious (Torah) ELS research.
Satinover agrees that efforts at confirmation or debunking should continue, but trivial stuff like the "Moby Dick" codes should not undermine the real work - at least until such "examples" meet the same levels of proof, which seems unlikely.
As a sort of bonus, there is the added mystery of the Jewish lunar calculations, which, according to his tables, are of an accuracy within 2 parts in a million (did I remember that right?) when compared with modern satellite figures. Why did the Jews ignore the results used by the other cultures around them, and how did they arrive at their own amazingly accurate number? Satinover presents to us the arcane knowledge involved, steeped in Jewish tradition, that boggles the mind.
Research continues, but my own feeling about it, after reading this book, is - surrender. You can now put away your toy "ELS analyses" of "War and Peace" and "Earth in the Balance." The Torah Codes are real. Now what are you going to do about it?
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on 10 December 1997
In reading Cracking the Bible Code, one of the first things that struck me was the human content of the research. Computers are used to do the work in much of the cases, but it is the human element that the messenger of the Torah Code speaks to. It is we who are the subjects. The creator's creation is the focus... or more to the point getting the creation to acknowledge the creator! So many books have appeared on the mythology of Genesis and the charming tales of the struggle of good and evil... and now we find that that struggle is more real than any myth could ever be made out to be. Dr. Satinover delivers a straight forward well rounded view of the history of the uncovering of the message within the message. And why the Jews have been called to guard so preciously the document we have come to know as the Torah. It is for all mankind. They did their job well. And now it is up to the rest of the world to accept or reject. For certainly this book more than any other thus far on the Torah Codes subject provides us with a key that unlocks a door that opens to a vista where science, faith, and the human quest for an explaination for our being can come together for the first time in many ages. This book is a must for laymen and clergy alike. For the Imam and the minister, the believer and the atheist... for shamans and pagans and any who think themselves human. This is a nuclear detonation in the time line of theology, and science... doubt or believe it matters not. Fact is fact, and what this book has to say is fact. Read it, once, twice how many ever times you have to... the message is joy. Somebody is watching over us.
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on 13 October 1997
QUESTION: Which one of the following terms describes people's reactions to the discovery of the Bible codes? Amazing, astonishing, incredulous, questionable, impossible, puzzling, stunning, astounding, baffling, weird, implausible, curious, exciting. ANSWER: All of the above. Incidentally, these same words could be used to describe the reactions of people to miraculous happenings in Bible times, both Old Testament and New Testament. QUESTION: Which one of the following words describes the contents of Dr. Satinover's new book, Cracking the Bible Code? Mystical, psychological, statistical, philosophical, archaeological, technical, autobiographical, probable, theological, anecdotal, historical, fuzzy. ANSWER: All of the above. QUESTION: How would you compare and contrast the books by Michael Drosnin (The Bible Code) and Jeffrey Satinover (Cracking the Bible Code)? ANSWER: In comparison, (1) both authors think the Bible code is real. (2) Both men have helpful Jewish roots and connections. (3) Both are gifted writers. (4) Both aimed their books at a general readership. (5) Both ignore or discount the research of Christian codes' enthusiasts. (6) Both think that only the surface has been scratched by current scientific research and that there is more to come, particularly from the disciplines of quantum physics and quantum cryptology. In contrast, (1) Drosnin's book is sensational, the work of a journalist; Satinover's book is reasonable, the work of a scientist. (2) Drosnin says Bible codes are like crossword puzzles; Satinover says they are like cryptograms. (3) Paradoxically, Drosnin is both secular and Biblically apocalyptic; Satinover is both religious and scientifically restrained. (4) I had to keep my Bible concordance at hand while reading Drosnin; I had to keep my Webster's dictionary at hand while reading Satinover. (5) Drosnin preaches, prophesies, and warns; Satinover teaches, explains, and enlightens. (6) Drosnin says that Bible codes are not God's doing; Satinover says that Bible codes are a divine fingerprint, God's watermark, on the Torah scrolls.
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on 24 April 1998
"...the Torah alone was not merely inspired, it was dictated directly by God to Moses in a precise letter-by-letter sequence." (Cracking the Bible Code - Jeffrey Satinover, M.D.). "The early Jewish cablists believed that the Old Testament was directly inspired by God, but with their love of secrecy, their interest in the hidden and contempt for the revealed, they looked for the truth of God's meaning beneath the surface words of the scriptures. Some of them seem to have thought that the Bible was largly written in various kinds of code. To unravel the codes they used mathematical and anagrammatic methods which were of considerable antiquity, but were first brought into prominence in the Cabala by the influential German-Jewish scholar Eleazar of Worms and his followers in the thirteenth century. One of these methods is gematria, which means converting the letters of a word into their number equivalents, adding them up and then substituting another word which adds to the same total." (The Black Arts - Richard Cavendish [pg 117]).
"The use of letters to signify numbers was known to the Babylonians and the Greeks. The first use of gematria occurs in an inscription of Sargon II (727-707 B.C.E.) which states that the king built the wall of Khorsabad 16,283 cubits long to correspond with the numerical value of his name. The use of gematria was widespread in the literature of the Magi and among interpreters of dreams in the Hellenisic world. The Gnostics equated the two holy names Abrazas and Mithras on the basis of the equivalent numerical value of their letters (365, corresponding to the days of the solar year) Its use was apparently introduced in Israel during the time of the Second Temple, even in the Temple itself, Greek letters being used to indicate numbers (Shek. 3:2)" (Kabbalah - Gershom Scholem [pg 337]).
"The true essence of the Torah, on the other hand, is defined in the Kabbalah according to three basic principles: the Torah is the complete mystcal name of God; the Torah is a living organism; and the divine speech is infinitely, and no finite human speech can ever exhaust it...From the magical belief that the Torah was composed of God's Holy Names, it was but a short step to the mystical belief that the entire Torah was in fact nothing else than the Great Name of God Himself...the Torah has been passed on with the understanding that it is a living structure from which not even one letter can be exised without seriously harming the entire body...Had it not been for Adam's sin, its letters would have combined to form a completely different narrative. In messianic times to come, therefor, God will reveal new combinations of letters that will yeild an entirely new content. Indeed, this is the "new Torah" alluded to in the Midrash in its commentary on Isaiah 51:4, "For Torah shall go forth from Me." Such beliefs continued to be widespread even in hasidic literature." (Kabbalah - Gershom Scholem [pg's 169-174]).
"Ba'al Shem (Heb. "Master of the Divine Name"; lit. "Possessor of the Name"), was the title given in popular usage and in Jewish literature, especially kabbalistic and hasidic works, from the Middle Ages onward, to one who possessed the secret knowledge of the Tetragrammaton and the other "Holy Names", and knew how to work miracles by the power of these names. The designation ba'al shem did not originate with the kabbalists, for it was already known to the last Baylonian geonim." (Kabbalah - Gershom Scholem [pg 310]).
"Sabbatai Sevi busied himself with inventing mystical allusions to himself by way of gematria (numerology). The numerical value of the full spelling of the divine name Shadday (Shin, Daleth, Yod) is 814, which happens to be the numerical value of the name Sabbatai Sevi." (Sabbatai Sevi - Gershom Scholem [pg 234]).
False prophets? A future 6th book to the Torah - contingent on a mystical wand? God's full name is the Torah itself? Masters of the Name that can create worlds by magic {"If the righteous wished, they could create a world" Kabbalah - Golem - Gershom Scholem - [pg 351]}? The magical use of God's Name in general?
It smells of Kabbalism and of Hasidism plain and simple. New wrapping, very old package. Even if it is on a computer screen - it is still cultic Judaism. The high rating is for origanality and content. But remember, even Doctors can kill patients if they use bad medicine. Sincerly, Shawn W. Ooten
(Gershom Scholem - President of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, a Professor of Jewish mysticism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem until his death in 1982. Author of 'Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism', 'The Messianic Idea in Judaism', 'On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism', 'On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead', and others. He put the Kabbalah back on the 20th century map.).
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on 13 January 1998
So many religions: which one has a prayer of being right? Perhaps those which put their stock in the only text in the world, ancient or modern, which exhibits a statistically puzzling (one is tempted to say "impossible") feature known as ELS - the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, believed to have been revealed to Moses as a continuous string of letters _without_ intervening spaces. Although the author is careful to avoid offending devotees of other faiths, the conclusion, if ELS holds true, is inescapable.
This is a much-needed treatment of the curious phenomenon of the Torah Codes, including a fascinating history behind the uncovering of ELS involving cryptography and computing, and consideration of current attempts at debunking ELS (such as Brendan McKay) and their flaws. Ironically, the ELS effect emerges not only unscathed but even stronger from the corrections and adjustments suggested so far by critics and unconvinced scholars. The most powerful kind of testimony related in the book: converts of the once-hostile kind, such as Harold Gans and Daniel Michaelson (an ex-atheist - because of the codes).
What is going on here? How is it that an ancient text exhibits statistical weirdness only discoverable _today_ because of the advent of computers? Why would someone carve out the book of Ezekiel in 10x10 grids IN RAISED LETTERS? (I found that kind of creepy.) Satinover describes to us the intense activity in academic circles involving top scholars, and is guarded in his enthusiasm, allowing for a possible debunking of the codes. Nevertheless, from what has transpired this far, it seems that we had better start thinking about the implications - real soon.
(Links to sites relating to ELS can be found at my web site:
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This absorbing book remains the very best study of the Bible Code that I've encountered. Satinover examines whether the code exists, its accuracy, meaning and implications. Mention of the code first appeared many centuries ago in the writings of Jewish mystics, especially during the great flowering of Spanish Kabbalah. It has been the subject of scientific research since the late 1980s.

Chapter one deals with the work of inter alia the Vilna Gaon Eliyahu ben Shlomo, Maimonides and Rabbi Moses ben Nachman and explains how the codes are encrypted in the Hebrew letters of the text. Chapter Two recounts the history of the discovery of the codes in the 1980s and provides portraits of some of the personalities involved, mainly religious members of the scientific community in Jerusalem. Illustrated with Hebrew text, it discusses the science of encryption and delves deeper into the structure of the codes and matters of statistical probability.

The next chapter considers the Jewish devotion to Torah, scribal traditions and the Jewish Torah compared to the Samaritan version, whilst the chapter titled The Black Fires of Holocaust and The White Fire of Destiny tell the tragic story of Rabbi Weissmandl of Slovakia. The pivotal role of cryptology in the Allied victory in the Second World War is explored next. The science of cryptology grew out of Kabbalah. A prime example of ancient cryptological sophistication is found in the work of Nechunya ben HaKanah, a student of the great Simeon ben Yochai, originator of the Zohar.

During the Renaissance, kabbalistic ideas became known in Europe. In the 15th century, cryptology suddenly experienced a series of major advances that laid the groundwork for the computer and the science of statistics. A famous name in Renaissance cryptology, Trithemius of Spannheim, developed a method based directly upon a prayer of the aforementioned Nechunya ben HaKanah. There were others, like Alberti and Cardano, from whose inventions all the sophisticated encoding machines used by the Allies were derived.

There are thought-provoking sections on Pascal, Von Neumann and Turing, whilst chapters eight and nine recount the (re)discovery of the code by Israeli scientists, discussing the phenomenon of clustering, the scientific scrutiny applied and specific messages like the Hanukkah and Purim codes. Chapter 10 provides further information on specific searches and their results.

Chapter 11, The Flames of Amalek, covers the 1991 Gulf War and discoveries about the Holocaust as well as the concept of the biblical Nimrod, the man of violence of whom Hitler was a type. Satinover also briefly discusses the book of Esther here. In this regard, I highly recommend The Dawn: Political Teachings of the Book of Esther by Yoram Hazony even though it only concerns itself with the surface or literal (pashat) level of textual interpretation.

Chapter 12, The Great Sages, first looks at the interest generated by the code, then at further experiments that resulted in the publication of an article in the journal Statistical Science. Some common misunderstandings of the codes are dealt with in chapter 13, whilst the next one contains interesting information on William James, author of The Varieties of Religious Experience, his views on deterministic influences and freedom of choice, and his influence on Satinover. Quantum Mechanics, the complexity of the codes, theology and personal conduct are also discussed here.

Technical Appendix A examines the ancient and extraordinarily exact Jewish calculation of 29.53059 days to the lunar month plus the age of the universe as calculated by Nechunya ben HaKanah from the book of Genesis and explained by Yitzhak DeMin Acco. They arrived at an age of 15.3 billion years. Nechunya lived in the first century AD and DeMin Acco in the 13th century! The work of Hugh Ross and Fazale Rana, such as A Matter Of Days and Who Was Adam?, is relevant here. Technical Appendix B considers transformations of space and time with reference to prime numbers and their visual and spatial configurations, whilst Appendix C revisits the "Great Sages" experiment in finer detail.

The 21 pages of notes are as interesting as the main text of the book. Note number 11 to chapter four was especially interesting to me as a Christian. It explains some seemingly Antisemitic passages by John in the book of Revelation and elsewhere. The first is the attack upon "Jews who are not Jews" and the second is the expression "synagogues of Satan." Satinover argues that these words apply to the Babylonian magic-based distortion of Judaism by the Samaritans. Archaeological digs have unearthed many of these "synagogues" that contain a blend of Judaic and astrological imagery. Thus John was not criticizing the synagogues of the Jewish people; this makes sense to me and clears up some confusion.

The fact that I was reading Richard Elliott Friedman's The Hidden Book In The Bible at the same time made Satinover's book even more intriguing. This hidden book was originally one narrative but was cut up by the Bible editors so that other stories, poetry and laws were spliced into and around it. The divided segments of this story are now spread through nine of the Bible books from Genesis to the first two chapters of Kings. In light of this, I am convinced that the mysterious editor/s of the Torah were divinely inspired; that the finalization of the Old Testament (Tanach), whenever it took place after the return from Babylon, was an act of momentous significance.

There are black & white figures and illustrations throughout the text. The bibliography contains books and articles plus the contact addresses of the Aish HaTorah organization which offers a reliable source of information on the Torah codes. The book concludes with an index. The Truth Behind The Bible Code is one of the most riveting books I have ever read, and a valuable reference source.
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on 14 January 1998
Dr. Satinover's book Cracking the Bible Code offers unexpected educational bonuses. Satinover engagingly explains advanced concepts like fuzzy logic, fractals and probability theory in ways that even a plain vanilla gentile with a soft degree from a state university can understand. After managing this extraordinary achievement, he clearly shows how they all relate to the controversial ELS Bible codes phenomenon. Another bonus - there are fascinating insights into the work of the NSA. Satinover serves up more real meat on the most secret of the secret government agencies than I've been able to locate in many years of surfing the 'net. To some, applying advanced cryptological analysis to the sacred Torah can be an emotionally charged event, bordering on blasphemy. Satinover convincingly explains that those scholars who are pioneering in this work approach it with an intoxicating mix of intellectual rigor and religious awe. The reader is ultimately enlarged by Satinover's unsentimental description of their unflinching intellect and profound faith. Mid-book, Satinover occasionally strays to fits robe renting over how the rest of the world has wronged respected Torah scholars throughout the ages. It's all sadly accurate of course, but it seems that this lecturing is a moral surtax levied on non-Jews in exchange for continuing with this extremely engaging book. The breast beating felt like an editorial add-on, which interrupted the natural flow and purpose of the book. Don't let this put you off. There were also fascinating glimpses into the arcane world of today's top mathmaticians and statisticians.It's comforting to know they squabble and have egos and predjudices just like us mortals. Inspirational. honest and with enough hard headed rigor to demonstrate that that the ELS-Torah phenomenon deserves respect -- Cracking the Bible Code is a wonderful read, right down to the technical appendix. And when's the last time you heard THAT from a plain vanilla gentile with a soft degree from a state university? Bryan Murray
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on 16 February 1998
Cracking the Bible Code was a non-stop read, simply because of the issues that keep on demanding one's attention. The subject is very sensitive and immensely important for the scientific community as well as the religious one, but I think the author is handling it very well. Unfortunately, the book does not have a haskamah (endorsement) from a rabbi. There is no doubt that what dr. Satinover is saying is consistent with traditional Jewish thought, but many readers (especially orthodox Jews) consider it important to have it formalized. The conclusions the author gets at should make an impression on those who are honest with themselves, and inspire them as the book inspired me.
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on 4 June 1998
Very interesting. Very readable. Very human. To his credit, Satinover says that the validity of the codes is not what anchors his belief in divine inspiration of the Torah. I like the book and have been learning more and more about the codes. I gave the book a five because I averaged two things: a "10" for the way the book is written (and therefore reads)and a "0" for the validity of the codes. Mark twain said it best: "There are lies, damned lies and statistics." The incredible odds cited ("p-values")imply that there is only one conclusion: that the things found encrypted in the Torah could only have been encoded by G-d. There is another explanation. The statistics cited are not relevant. The researchers have not asked the right question. The analogy is: I parked next to a car today and noticed that licensce plate was XLT 557. What are the chances that I would park next to the car with that plate? Obviously, since my state (I'm guessing) has 8,000,000 private cars, the chance is 1 in 8-million. But I'm asking the wrong question. The correct question is what is the chance that today I will park next to a car with a license plate that is 1 of 8,000,000. The answer to that (the correct) question is 1 out of 1, ie, certainty. What initially seemed like an incredible situation is in fact pretty dull. There are many other complicated refutations of the codes that can be examined. What is still interesting, though, is how the Jews calculated the lunar month, and also (not covered in Satinover's book) the proscriptions regarding hygiene and sanitation in the Torah that were good "advice" to avoid infection, passing on disease, etc. In the end, I would not say don't read this, just keep in mind that the codes are by no means as "proven" as some would like to believe.
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on 25 January 1998
Excellent presentation of complicated material. With 'Cracking the Bible Code" and the wonderful and inspiring "The Autobiography of Jesus of Nazareth and the Missing Years" by Richard G. Patton, this has been a momentous year! Winter has been kind to us this year!
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