A SHORT GUIDE TO BIBLE NUMERICS
Bible numerics is the study of mathematical patterns in the original Hebrew text where letters are transposed into numbers. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet. The first 9 letters are given values 1 to 9. The next 9 are numbered by tens: 10 to 90. And the final 4 letters have values 100, 200, 300, 400. (The 11th, 13th, 14th, 17th, and 18th letters change appearance when they are at the end of a word but have the same value. See chart below.)
The original purpose may have been a primitive numbering system. To represent the number 524, the ancient Hebrews would write the 22nd letter (value 400), the 19th letter (value 100), the 11th letter (value 20), and the 4th letter (value 4). This was easier than writing the entire number out as “five hundreds, two tens, and four.” The Roman numeral system (I, II, III, IV, V...) is another example of a primitive numbering system. By changing the biblical Hebrew text to numbers, very interesting number patterns appear. In some cases they are so complex they could only have been constructed by God.
N.B. Numbers in the Bible are written out. They do not use the numbering system mentioned above.
Ivan Panin, a Russian mathematician, was the first to use bible numerics intelligently in the late 1890s. His hope was to find a numeric pattern so complex only a super intelligence could have written and hidden it in the Bible. This would be proof of divine authorship. He also wanted to find a master code to the Bible. A master code would render the Bible tamper proof. Any changes would disrupt the pattern and give itself away. While Panin did not find a master code, he did find many verses containing numerous mathematical features. His most spectacular discovery was right where you would expect it, in the very first verse of the Bible (Genesis 1:1). (Click here for an abbreviated version of his study). Panin found so many patterns of seven in this verse and elsewhere in the Bible he concluded only God could have constructed them.
THE PURPOSE OF BIBLE NUMERICS
Many people get caught up in the search for numeric features and lose sight of God’s word. We should never stop at the numbers. We can and must go further. Bible numeric features highlight the important verses. A genealogical list of names with numeric features is interesting, but teaches nothing. Verses where God tells us about himself, what he is doing, what he wants us to do or learn, are something else. The true purpose of bible numerics is to emphasize the meaning of the text and only sometimes to give it more depth.
Copyright© 2001, 2002 by Jerry Chin