Chapter Four - The Sealed Book
THE two great Biblical Apocalypses, the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation in the New Testament, are predictions of unprecedented horror, to be fully revealed when a secret book is opened at the "End of Days."
In Revelation, it is the book sealed by "seven seals" that can be opened only by the Messiah: "And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
And no man in Heaven, nor in Earth, neither under the Earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon."
In Daniel, which is the original version of the same story, an angel reveals the ultimate future to the Hebrew prophet, and then tells him, "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the End."
It was these two verses that caused Isaac Newton to look for a code in the Bible.
The End is foretold four times in the original five books. I checked the first, where the patriarch Jacob tells his twelve sons "what will befall you in the End of Days."
In the Bible code, "5756" appeared in the same place.
"In 5756" ran right across "in the End of Days." It is the year in the ancient Hebrew calendar that began in September 1995 and ended in September 1996. No other year in the next ten matched. The odds that the current year would be encoded with the "End of Days" by chance were 100 to 1.
I could not believe that the Apocalypse started now.
I checked the second statement of the End Time in the Bible. Here Moses tells the people of Israel "all the things that will come upon thee at the End of Days." It was encoded with the Rabin assassination.
I checked the third. Just before Moses died, in his final speech to the ancient Israelites, he again warned that "evil will befall you in the End of Days." That was also encoded with the Rabin assassination.
I checked the fourth, where the mysterious sorcerer Balaam tells an ancient enemy of Israel "what this people shall do to thy people in the End of Days."
His Apocalyptic vision had a frightening ring of reality. It foretold a great battle in the Middle East, a future war between Israel and the Arabs, a terrible conflict that would bring many nations "everlasting ruin."
"I see it, but not now," said Balaam 3000 years ago. "I behold it, but it is not near."
In the Bible code, that prediction of the "End of Days" matched "atomic holocaust" and "World War."
THERE was one other way the "End of Days" was foretold in the Bible. It was in the very last words of the Book of Daniel, right after the angel refuses to tell the prophet the details of an Apocalypse he says will last three and a half years.
"Go thy way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the End," says the angel. "You will stand up for thy inheritance at the End of Days."
I checked this final Biblical expression of the End Time in the Bible code. It also matched the current year, 1996. The odds that "in 5756" and "End of Days" would again appear together by chance were more than 200 to 1.
I did a computer run of more than a hundred years. No other year in the next century matched both Biblical prophecies of the "End of Days."
The Bible code clearly stated that the End started now-that the current year, the year that in the modern calendar began in late 1995 and ended in late 1996, was the beginning of the long-prophesied Apocalypse.
But the code did not say when the "End of Days" would end.
I looked again at the last chapter of Daniel, where the secret book is sealed shut. There it is stated that the "sealed book" will reveal the details of a greater horror than the world has ever seen: "And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation."
The Bible code did appear to be a warning of the ultimate catastrophe. It was not clear when it would happen, but the code did seem to state that there would be a third "world War," an "atomic holocaust," the real Armageddon.
For more than four years I had been investigating the Bible code, and from the beginning I had known that both of the two major predictions of the End Time said that it would be fully revealed when a secret book was opened.
But until this moment I never realized that the Bible code might be the secret book.
Yet, if the Bible code was real, it could have only one purpose-to warn the world of an unprecedented danger.
Nothing short of that could explain a 3000-year-old code in the one book most central to the world. And the danger must be right upon us, or we would not be finding the Bible code now.
Some intelligence that could see the future encoded the Bible. It knew when the danger would exist. It designed the code to be found by a technology that would not exist until then.
Could the Bible code be the "sealed book"? It was sealed, with a kind of time-lock, that could not be opened until the computer was invented.
Had we really opened the "sealed book"? Could this really be the "End of Days"?
I remembered Eli Rips' caution that the Bible code was like a giant jigsaw puzzle with thousands of pieces, and we had only a handful. A picture was clearly emerging, but it was too large, and too horrifying to believe.
I flew back to Israel, and met again with Rips at his home in Jerusalem.
We looked together at the place in the Bible where the two Biblical statements of the "End of Days" were encoded together, and where they both were encoded with the current year.
"Can you believe this is real?" I asked Rips.
"Yes," he said quietly.
"Do you think that the Bible code might be the `sealed book'?" I asked. The mathematician who discovered the Bible code had also never realized that the code might be the prophesied "sealed book," the secret text that the Bible itself states will be opened as a final revelation in the "End of Days."
"Obviously, if the danger that is encoded is real, if there is an `atomic holocaust,' it would fulfill the prophecy in Daniel," said Rips.
He opened his Bible, and read aloud the famous words: "And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation."
The secret book, Rips agreed, had been designed to be opened now. "That is why Isaac Newton could not do it," said Rips. "It was `sealed until the time of the End.' It had to be opened with a computer."
I told Rips that I did not really believe that there would be an "End of Days," much less that it would begin now.
"I am convinced that the ancient commentary is true," said Rips. "It states that there will be a terrible time before the coming of the Messiah."
I told Rips that I could not believe in a supernatural salvation. I was certain that the only help that we were going to get was the Bible code itself.
I could hardly believe even that.
I looked again at the place where the "End of Days" was encoded with "in 5756." Two other words stood out in that code matrix. The name of Rabin's assassin, "Amir." And the word "war."
"Amir" was spelled out in the same skip sequence as "End of Days," right where it crossed the year Rabin was killed. And right below the year was the word "war."
It was not clear when the predicted "war" would begin, but it was clear that the code was intended for this moment in time.
The "End of Days" was no longer some mythical event in the distant future. According to the Bible code, it had already begun. This was the beginning of the long-prophesied Apocalypse.
But both the danger and its prevention seemed to be encoded. "Plague" was there, but also "peace," and a word that could be read either as a plea or a command-"Save!"
Rips opened his Bible to Daniel again, and pointed to the words that immediately followed the prediction of an unprecedented "time of trouble"-"And at that time thy people shall be rescued, everyone who shall be found written in the book."
Had the "sealed book" been opened, perhaps just in time, to warn us of the ultimate danger, the long-threatened "End of Days"?
I could not believe it.
I never believed there would be an Apocalypse. I had always assumed that it was an empty threat, the club all religions used to keep people in line.
All through history doomsayers thought they saw in the Bible predictions that the world would end in their own times. They read the words of Daniel and Revelation and were sure it was a picture of the present moment.
The keepers of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the zealots who hid copies of nearly all the books of the Bible in caves above the Dead Sea more than 2000 years ago, were certain that the Final Battle was right upon them.
The early Christians believed that the New Testament clearly stated that the End would come in their own lifetimes. Did not Christ warn, "This generation shall not pass till all these things have happened"?
In every succeeding age someone arose to say the End was now. At the first millennium, in the year 1000 AD. At every time of war and crisis. And they always quoted the Bible, and they were always certain that they had pierced the veil, seen through the symbolic language and knew exactly when the End was coming.
And they were always wrong.
But no serious scientist had ever before found a computerized code in the Bible, a mathematically proven fact that had been confirmed by every other scientist who actually examined it.
And no one had ever before found a code that accurately predicted real events in the real world. No one before had found names and dates in advance. No one before had found the name of a comet and the day it would strike Jupiter. No one before had found the name of a Prime Minister, and the name of his assassin, and. the year he would be killed. No one before had found the exact day a war would begin.
The Bible code was different.
IF the Bible code was a warning to this world, where did it come from? Who could look 3000 years ahead, and encode the future into the Bible?
The Bible itself, of course, says that God is the author, that he dictated the original five books to Moses on Mount Sinai: "And the Lord said to Moses, Come up to me to the mountain, and I will give thee the tablets of stone, and the Torah."
It was, according to the Bible, a startling encounter.
In the pre-dawn stillness of the desert, there was suddenly a terrible
thunder, and the black mountain towering above was illuminated by an explosive flash of lightning. Great flames shot out from the mountain top, as if the peak itself had been set afire, and in the growing light, the vast expanse of desert around it began to quake.
Startled awake by the thunder and the lightning, and the shaking of the ground beneath them, 600,000 men, women, and children rushed out of their tents, and stared up in terror at the mountain that now shook violently and smoked like a furnace. A ram's horn sounded above the thunder, and one man stepped forward toward the mountain.
Suddenly a voice called out to him from nowhere: "Moses, come up to the top of the mountain."
It was 1200 BC. According to the Bible, on the top of Mount Sinai Moses heard the voice we call "God." And that voice gave him the ten laws that defined Western civilization, the Ten Commandments, and it dictated to him the book that we call the Bible.
But when God says, "Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will work miracles," the code says "computer."
The word "computer" appears six times in the plain text of the Bible, hidden within the Hebrew word for "thought." Four of the six anachronistic appearances of "computer" are in the verses of Exodus that describe the building of the Ark of the Covenant, the famous "Lost Ark" that carried the Ten Commandments.
The code suggests that even the writing of the laws on the two stone tablets may have been computer-generated. "And the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets," states Exodus 32:16. But encoded in that same verse is a hidden message: "it was made by computer."
The code must be describing a device far beyond any we have yet developed. The New York Times recently reported that mankind may be ready to take the next leap, to harness the world inside atoms and create "an information-processing method so powerful that it would be to ordinary computing what nuclear energy is to fire." This "quantum computer," said the Times, could perform in minutes calculations that would take the fastest super computers we now have hundreds of millions of years to complete.
The astronomer Carl Sagan once noted that if there was other intelligent life in the universe some of it would have certainly evolved far earlier than we did, and had thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions, or hundreds of millions of years to develop the advanced technology that we are only now beginning to develop.
"After billions of years of biological evolution-on their planet and ours -an alien civilization cannot be in technological lockstep with us," wrote Sagan.
"There have been humans for more than twenty thousand centuries, but we've had radio only for about one century," wrote Sagan. "If alien civilizations are behind us, they're likely to be too far behind us to have radio. And if they're ahead of us, they're likely to be far ahead of us. Think of the technical advances on our world over just the last few centuries. What is for us technologically difficult or impossible, what might seem to us like magic, might for them be trivially easy."
The author of 2001, Arthur C. Clarke-who envisioned a mysterious black monolith that reappears at successive stages of human evolution, each time we are ready to be taken to a higher level-made a similar observation: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
What the Bible code suggests is that behind the "miracles" of the Old Testament there was an advanced technology.
The code calls it a "computer." But it may only be using the language we can understand. "History suggests that each age appeals to its most impressive technology as a metaphor for the cosmos, or even God," states the Australian physicist Paul Davies in his book The Mind of God.
Since the root of the same word that means "computer" in Hebrew also means "thought," when the Bible code reveals a "computer" behind the "miracles" it may actually be revealing a "mind."
But not a mind like ours, anymore than a computer like ours.
THE one basic shared belief of all major religions is the existence of an outside, non-human intelligence, God.
If the Bible code proves one thing, it is that a non-human intelligence really does exist, or at least did exist at the time the Bible was written. No human could have looked thousands of years ahead, and encoded in that ancient book the details of today's world.
We have forgotten that the Bible is our best known story of a close encounter. The long-awaited contact from another intelligence actually took place long ago.
According to the Bible, it happened when a voice spoke out of nowhere to Abraham, and again when it spoke to Moses from a burning bush.
The Bible code is, in fact, an alternative form of contact scientists searching for intelligent life beyond this planet have suggested: "the discovery of an alien artefact or message on or near Earth."
Physicist Davies theorized that the "alien artefact" might be "programmed to manifest itself only when civilization on Earth crossed a certain threshold of advancement." That perfectly describes the Bible code. It had a time-lock. It could only be opened once computers had been invented.
The rest of Davies' vision is again a precise description of the Bible code: "The artefact could then be interrogated directly, as with a modern interactive computer terminal, and a type of dialogue immediately established. Such a device-in effect, an extraterrestrial time capsule-could store vast amounts of important information for us."
Davies, winner of the Templeton prize for science and religion, imagines "coming across the artefact on the Moon or on Mars" or "discovering it suddenly on the Earth's surface when the time is right."
In fact, we have always had it. It is the best known book in the world. We have just never recognized what it really was.
WHAT Moses actually received on Mt. Sinai was an interactive data base, which until now we could not fully access.
The Bible that "God" dictated to Moses was really a computer program. First it was carved in stone and written on parchment scrolls. Then it was bound into a book. But in the code it is called "the ancient computer program."
Now the computer program can be played back, and reveal the hidden truth about our past and our future.
The "Bible code" itself is encoded in the Bible, and the same words also mean, "He hid, concealed the Bible." The suggestion is that there is another Bible encoded within the story that is openly told in the Old Testament.
The computerized code clearly confirms that it is the "seal," the time-lock that until now has protected the hidden secrets. "Sealed before God" actually crosses "Bible code."
And "computer" is encoded in the last chapter of Daniel, starting in the very verse that commands the prophet to "shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the End."
The Bible code is the secret "sealed book."
PROPHECY, of course, is not unique to the code. It happens all through the Bible. The patriarch Jacob tells his twelve sons what will happen in the distant future. Moses reveals two possible futures to the ancient Israelites.
In fact, Jack Miles in his Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of God states, "It is the miracle of prediction-fortune-telling at the international level rather than any battlefield miracle that is expected to bring everyone to the worship of the true God."
But the Bible code for the first time gives us a direct line to the future. Instead of relying on prophets who see visions and interpret dreams, we can now access by computer an ancient code hidden in the Bible.
The code's existence is actually revealed in two well-known stories of ancient prophecy.
The best known fortune-teller in the Bible is Joseph. Sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, he rose to become the virtual ruler of Egypt, by telling the Pharaoh the future.
Joseph alone knew that the Pharaoh's dream of seven fat cows and seven lean cows foretold a great famine. His prediction saved all of Egypt from starvation.
"Can there be another person who has God's spirit in him as this man does?" the Pharaoh asks his court. And he says to Joseph, "Since God has shown you all this there is none so wise; according to thy word shall all my people be ruled."
The Pharaoh makes Joseph his regent and gives him anew name: "Zaphenath-Paneah."
It is always written that way, in every translation of the Bible, and, even in the original Hebrew, always treated as a name. Over the millennia, there have been many learned speculations on its meaning. Some say it is the Hebrew translation of an Egyptian name originally written in hieroglyphics. Scholars have guessed that it means "revealer of secrets." Others say it means, "the god speaks, and lives."
But, in fact, the supposed name has a very clear meaning in Hebrew: "decoder of the code." Perhaps no one has seen it before, because no one knew there was a code in the Bible.
So, the Bible calls Joseph "decoder of the code." An alternate translation suggests that he created the code for us to find now: "Joseph encoded, you will decode."
But Joseph cannot be the encoder. The Bible did not even exist until "God" dictated it to Moses on Mount Sinai hundreds of years after Joseph was dead.
Joseph's name in Hebrew means "it will be added." The full hidden text in Genesis 41:45 therefore really reads, "The code will be added, you will decode it."
Again in the Book of Daniel, what seems to be a story of ancient prophecy is really a revelation of the Bible code.
There, too, God awes the greatest ruler on Earth, the King of Babylon, by revealing the future. He foretells the rise and fall of ancient kingdoms. "Truly your God must be the God of gods and the Lord of kings, and the revealer of secrets, to have enabled you to reveal this secret," the King tells Daniel.
But the same words that in Hebrew mean "revealer of secrets" also mean "secret scroll." And the full hidden text states: "He revealed the secrets enough that you were able to reveal this secret scroll."
The Bible code is the "secret scroll."
Is the same "God" who revealed the future to Joseph, who revealed the future to Daniel, now through the Bible code also revealing the future to us?
It seemed to be once more, as Miles put it, "fortune-telling at the international level."
The Rabin assassination, and the year it would happen, were revealed in advance. The Gulf War, and the date it would start, were precisely foretold.
But I did not yet know if the predictions of a third "World War," of an "atomic holocaust," of the "End of Days" were also accurate.
And I wondered why "God" would reveal the danger, rather than simply prevent it.
"The God who is assisting Joseph," notes Miles, "was great enough to know what was going on, but not great enough to determine what would go on.
The same might be true of whoever encoded the Bible. He could see the future, but he could not change it. He could only hide in the Bible a warning.
The Book of Daniel, suggests Miles, presents human history as "a vast reel of film whose contents can be known before it is projected." God can "provide a preview."
The question was whether we by seeing the movie could change it, whether we by opening the "sealed book" could only know the horror of the "End of Days," or also prevent it.
"EVEN within a world created by an all-powerful and benevolent God, there can be a struggle between good and evil, whose outcome is uncertain," says Eli Rips.
The Bible code may be a set of probabilities. The sealed book might hold all our possible futures. Each predicted event appears to be encoded with at least two possible outcomes.
Rips agrees that the Bible code might have a positive and a negative strand, two opposing statements of reality intertwined: "As in court, an Advocate, and an Accuser."
"Possibly there are two opposing statements always encoded to preserve our free will, and it may be that the Bible code is written as a debate," said Rips. "According to the Midrash, the world was created twice-it was first conceived from the point of view of absolute judgement, right and wrong.
Then God saw that the world could not exist this way, that there was no room for human imperfection, and he added mercy.
"But it's not like mixing hot and cold water and getting lukewarm, it's like mixing fire and snow and each preserves its separate existence. That may be the two strands in the Bible code."
Rips, however, does not believe that there are two encoders. "The Bible must have been encoded all at once by one mind," he insisted. "But it may encode two different points of view."
He opened the Bible to Isaiah 45:7, and read it to me: "I am the Lord and there is none else, I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace and create evil; I, the Lord, do all these things."
For Rips, as a mathematician and as a devout Jew, there is no need to ask the question, Who is the encoder?
The answer is obvious. The encoder, the Advocate and the Accuser are all one. It is God.
FOR me, it was not that simple. I had proof there was a code, but not proof there was a God. If the Bible code came from an all-powerful God, he would not need to tell us the future. He could change it himself.
The code seemed, instead, to be from someone good, but not all-powerful, who wanted to warn us of a terrible danger so we could prevent it ourselves.
The Book of Revelation states that the Final Battle will come by surprise, like a thief in the night. In fact, the words that come right before Armageddon are, "Behold, I come as a thief."
The Bible is a warning of sudden and inevitable doom.
But the real message of the Bible code is just the opposite. A warning is encoded in the Bible so that we can prevent the threatened Apocalypse.
The truth is hidden in the last chapter of Daniel, the verses that describe the "sealed book."
They reveal that the secret book was designed to be found now. This year, 1997, in the ancient Hebrew calendar 5757, is encoded with the words, "He sealed the book until the time of the End." Right above that the hidden text
states, "for you, the hidden secrets." And crossing "5757," again those same words, which also mean "for you, it was encoded."
But who was the encoder?
The last words spoken to Daniel-"Go thy way till the end be, for thou shalt rest, and stand up for thy inheritance at the End of Days"-have a second meaning.
They also tell the story of someone who has been struggling all through time to prevent a foreseen disaster, and bring history to a good end:
"You will persevere for the fate of everyone to the End of Days."
Someone hid in the Bible a warning-the information we need to prevent the destruction of this world.