The Mysterious Equidistant Letter Skipping Of Isaiah 53

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

Long ago, the Jewish rabbis noticed something interesting about the Hebrew Scriptures: there were patterns found in the text when one skipped an equal number of letters between words.

Found through these equidistant letter skipping were entire words, phrases, and concepts hidden within the passage.  

Shortly before World War One, a Jewish Rabbi named Michael Dov Weissmandl discovered a fourteenth century book written by another Jewish Rabbi, Rabbeynu Bachayah.

Within its’ pages, it was declared that certain puzzling truths could be found through the successive skipping of letters in the Hebrew text.  

Later in the 16th century, another Jewish rabbi named Moses Cordevaro explained that, “The secrets of the Torah are revealed…in the skipping of the letters.”  

Well, what kind of “secrets” were revealed in the “skipping of the letters?”  

As an example, in Genesis 1:29-Genesis 2:9 we have about 635 words in English.

The two aforementioned verses (the starting verse of Genesis 1:29 and the ending verse of Genesis 2:9) discuss in detail the seed-bearing trees and plants that God gave to mankind.  

By using equidistant letter skipping, the ancient Jewish rabbis were able to identity all seven edible species of seed-bearing fruit and all 25 trees delineated in Old Testament tradition.

Chuck Missler provides the list for us: tamarisk, terebinth, thicket, citron, acacia, almond, wheat, date palm, cedar, aloe, grape, boxthorn or bramble, cassia, pomegranate, gopherwood or fir, thornbush, olive, pistachio nut, hazel, fig, willow, oak, vine, barley, chestnut, poplar.  

He writes: 

“In addition to the search for words at varying intervals, there is also the critical aspect of clustering : finding related words hidden together, and in relevant places . As an example, beginning with Genesis 1:29, “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.…” …and ending with “And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Genesis 2:9 All seven edible species of seed-bearing fruit in the Land of Israel are found encoded, as well as the 25 trees delineated by Old Testament tradition. 188 The names, (and their intervals) are listed below: (“-” indicates an interval counting backward, from left to right.)…It is the presence of all of these in this chapter (635 words in English), and their clustering around the very verses which introduces them in the Creation, which eludes any traditional statistical analysis. 190” (Dr. Chuck Missler, Cosmic Codes: Hidden Messages From The Edge Of Eternity, 1603-1609 (Kindle Edition); Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; KOINONIA HOUSE)

The names of all of these trees and plants (which happen to be all of the edible varieties within the land of Israel) were found within this text, which described God giving mankind the trees and plants for food!  

According to researchers such as Daniel Michelson, the odds of these all occurring in the text by chance alone are well over one hundred thousand to one! (See Daniel Michelson, “Codes in the Torah” B’Or Ha’Torah , No. 6 (1987), Jerusalem: Shamir)

Consider another example.  

In the Book of Genesis, we see that with every fiftieth letter, the word “Torah” is spelled (the word “Torah” is the Hebrew word for “law”).

You find the same thing in the Book of Exodus!

The Book of Leviticus does not have this pattern, yet when we turn to Deuteronomy we see the same pattern but it is spelled backward!  

Why is this significant?  

“(The following was first revealed to me by my friend, Dr. Gerald Schroeder, the famed atomic physicist who presently resides in Jerusalem. 24) Here are the opening verses in the Book of Genesis in Hebrew: (Remember, Hebrew goes from right to left!)…The word Torah, in Hebrew, is four letters, . If you go to the first (tau, which is similar to our “T”), and count an interval of 49 letters, the next letter is a (vav, operating here like an “O”); count another interval of 49 letters and you will find a (resh, like our “R”); and then count another interval of 49 letters and you will find a (heh, or “H”). We find the word , or Torah, spelled out with 49 letter intervals. Rather strange. It would seem that someone has gone to some remarkable effort; and yet some argue that it is just coincidence. And when we examine the next book, the Book of Exodus, we discover the same thing again! Here are the first few verses of Exodus:…Could this also be a coincidence, again? Just what are the chances of such a coincidence? The word might, on merely a statistical basis, appear in Genesis quite a few times depending on the range of intervals chosen. The total number of letters in Genesis is 78,064, and the amount of the letters , 4152; , 8448; , 4793, and , 6283. Indeed, appears three times in Genesis at the interval of 50, which is what might be statistically expected from a book of that length and of similar concentration of these four letters. But there is no reason why these should begin with the first of the book, and why this should happen in both Genesis and Exodus. The probability of such a coincidence has been estimated at about one in three million! In the next book, the Book of Leviticus, this 49-letter interval doesn’t seem to appear. (We’ll return to reexamine an alternative discovery.) When we examine the next book, the Book of Numbers, we discover that it happens again if we spell Torah backwards!…When we examine the final book of the Torah, the Book of Deuteronomy, a similar thing happens, 25 but again, backwards!…This seems to be too deliberate to be ascribed simply to chance. But why has this ostensibly deliberate arrangement been composed? What are the implications? When we return to reexamine the Book of Leviticus, we discover that the square root of 49, 7, yields a provocative result. After the first yod (), and an interval of seven, taking the next letter yields , the tetragramaton, the ineffable name of God, the YHWH. It appears that the Torah always points toward the Ineffable Name of God!…This seems to hint of a hidden signature. Just as certain authors adopted a trademark, or “shtick,” such as Alfred Hitchcock always appearing as an extra in his famous movies, or J.M.W. Turner’s secret signature on his venerated water colors, or the fabled hidden signature of Shakespeare in Psalm 46,26 we detect here evidence of hidden but deliberate design. And it may be a signpost pointing to others. As we discovered in the previous chapter, within the first of the five books of Moses, known in Hebrew as the Torah, God’s redemptive program was anticipated in the hidden message in the genealogy of Noah. Even the very name of this most venerated part of the Old Testament, highlights God’s program. Even the word “Torah” itself, drawing on the concepts that lie behind the original Hebrew letters, , embodies some provocative elements: The Tav (originally, a cross), the Vav (a nail), the Resh (the head of a man), and the Heh, (the breath or Spirit of God). Thus, Man, with the Spirit of God, nailed on the Cross! This term was in existence well before Messiah walked on the earth. It is an interesting summary of the climax of God’s love story, which was nailed on a cross erected in Judea 2,000 years ago. The entire Biblical drama records the extremes our Creator has resorted to in order to redeem man—including you and me—from our predicament.” (Chuck Missler, Hidden Treasures In The Biblical Text, 257-309 (Kindle Edition); Coeur d’Alene, ID; Koinonia House)

What are the odds of these occurrences of these uses of the word Torah appearing by chance as often as they do?   

According to mathematician Dr. Daniel Michelson, the odds are three million to one against the word Torah being found encoded four times by chance alone within the opening verses of the first five Books of the Bible (Daniel Michelson, “Codes in the Torah” B’Or Ha’Torah , No. 6 (1987), Jerusalem: Shamir). 

There are several other examples of these “Bible Codes” throughout the Old and New Testaments, but I want to share with you some incredible things which have been discovered about one of the most powerful texts of Scripture in the Bible: the 53rd chapter of Isaiah.  

The Story Of Isaiah 53

Isaiah 53 is one of the most incredible chapters of the Bible.  

Isaiah the Prophet lived and prophesied between the eighth and seventh centuries before Jesus lived.

While preaching to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, he provided many incredible prophecies of the coming Messiah.  

Starting in chapter 40 of Isaiah, there are several passages that refer to the “servant” of the Lord.  

At times, this “servant” has reference to the faithful people of Israel who were to be God’s servants in the world.

For example: 

Isaiah 41:8-10-8 “But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, The descendants of Abraham My friend.

9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its farthest regions, And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away:

10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Isaiah 43:10-“You are My witnesses,” says the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me.

While sometimes the “servant” refers to the people of Israel collectively, sometimes the “servant” has a reference to a single individual who would come to the world and serve the Lord, as contrasted with the people of Israel.

One of these passages (Isaiah 53) describes in remarkable detail the life, suffering, death, burial, resurrection, and exaltation of the Servant, I.e., Jesus Christ.  

Speaking of the specifics of the “servant” songs (especially Isaiah 53), Michael Brown tells us: 

“Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is one of the most important Messianic prophecies in the entire Hebrew Bible, and I would not be exaggerating to say that more Jews have put their faith in Jesus as Messiah after reading this passage of Scripture than after reading any other passage in the Tanakh….Interestingly, the national interpretation is not found once in the Talmuds, the Targums, or the midrashim (in other words, not once in all the classical, foundational, authoritative Jewish writings). In fact, it is not found in any traditional Jewish source until the time of Rashi, who lived in the eleventh century C.E.105 That is saying something! For almost one thousand years after the birth of Yeshua, not one rabbi, not one Talmudic teacher, not one Jewish sage, left us an interpretation showing that Isaiah 53 should be interpreted with reference to the nation of Israel (as opposed to a righteous individual, or righteous individuals, within Israel), despite the fact that these verses from Isaiah are quoted in the New Testament and were often used in Jewish-Christian debate….The servant of the Lord (Hebrew, ‘ebed) is mentioned a total of seventeen times in Isaiah 40-51, sometimes with reference to the nation of Israel as a whole (41:8-9; twice in 42:19; 43:10; twice in 44:21; 45:4; 48:20), and sometimes with reference to a righteous individual within the nation (49:3, 5-7; 50:10)….Significantly, the most personal, specific, individual language is found in Isaiah 52:13 and 53:11, roughly the beginning and the end of this glorious prophetic passage. Reviewing the data just presented, we can see something very important: The references to the servant as a people actually end with Isaiah 48:20, while the references to the servant as an individual come into indisputable focus beginning with Isaiah 49 and continuing through the end of chapter 53. Thus, by the time we reach Isaiah 52:13, the spotlight is on a person, not a people. The picture is becoming clearer!…This servant is obedient and righteous, setting captives free, and according to the Targum, this servant is none other than the Messiah. 107 This is confirmed by Rabbi David Kimchi—one of the so-called “big three” medieval Rabbinic commentators—who also interpreted the words “Behold my servant” in Isaiah 42:1 with specific reference to “King Messiah.”108 And this image occurs even more plainly in Isaiah 49, where the servant is called Israel and yet is sent on a mission to redeem Israel. The servant is a righteous individual who represents the nation.109 The servant, as in Isaiah 42, is the Messiah!110” (Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objections To Jesus: Volume Three-Messianic Prophecy Objections, 40-43 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books) 

Why did the Jewish people believe that the “Servant” in some of these passages was not a reference to the collective people of Israel?  

Actually, there are several reasons why they had this understanding!  

There are several places where we see that the Servant is sometimes distinct and separate from the nation of Israel.

For example, in Isaiah 52:14, the “Servant” is contrasted with the people of Israel.  
More to the point, in Isaiah 53:8, the “Servant” is said to bear the sins of God’s people (in context, the nation of Israel).  
It is also worth noting that we are told that the Servant is sinless (Isaiah 50:9; 53:9) as opposed to the people of Israel (42:18-25).

Even the righteous remnant in Israel were sinners (Isaiah 6:5)!  

For these, as well as other reasons, the earliest Rabbis understood the Servant Song of Isaiah 53 to be a reference to the Messiah:

“For more than 1700 years, the Jewish rabbis interpreted this passage almost unanimously as referring to the Messiah. This fact is thoroughly documented in S. R. Driver and Adolf Neubauer’s The Fifty-Third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters. 19/37-39 They quote numerous rabbis during this period who equated the servant of Isaiah 53 with the Messiah. Not until the twelfth century A.D., no doubt under the suffering of the Jews at the hand of the Crusaders, did any Jewish interpreter say that Isaiah 52:13-53:12 refers to the whole nation of Israel, the most common interpretation today among Jewish scholars. Even after Rashi (Rabbi Solomon Yazchaki) first proposed this interpretation, however, many other Jewish interpreters have held, even to the present, the traditional Talmudic view that Isaiah 53 speaks of the Messiah. One of the most respected Jewish intellectuals of all history, Moses Maimonides (A.D. 1135 -1204) rejected Rashi’s interpretation, and he taught that the passage was messianic. 59/364-65” (Josh McDowell & Bill Wilson, A Ready Defense: The Best Of Josh McDowell, 254 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 

Enter The Bible Codes Of Isaiah 53

The prophecies of Isaiah 53 are some of the most powerful evidences in demonstrating that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.  

Yet, one of the most fascinating discoveries about this text in recent years has been the identification of several words in the Hebrew text of Isaiah 53, made through the study of equidistant letter skipping.  

These findings clearly foretell incredibly specific elements of the life of Jesus Christ.  

In Chuck Missler’s excellent book, The Fulcrum of the Entire Universe Isaiah 53: The Pivot Point of All History, we find a list of words in the text of Isaiah 53 which have been discovered: 

Passover

The Man Herod

Wicked Caesar Perish 

The Evil Roman City

Let Him Be Crucified

Moriah

Cross

Pierce

From The Atonement Lamb

Bread

Wine

Obed

Jesse 

Seed

Water

Jonah

The Disciples Mourn

Peter

Matthew

John 

Andrew

Philip 

Thomas

James

James

Simon

Thaddeus 

Matthias 

Mary

Mary

Mary

Salome

Joseph 

Yeshua Is My Name

His Signature

Messiah

Nazarene

Galilee

Shiloh 

Pharisee

Levites 

Caiphas 

Annas 

In describing the incredible details of these facts from Isaiah 53, Missler writes:

“Let’s focus now on Isaiah 53 itself. We’ve spent a lot of time covering this amazing prophecy about the sacrificial death of our Lord. Let’s take a moment to consider the words coded within the 15 short verses from Isaiah 52:13 to Isaiah 53:12….We find more than 40 words and phrases associated with the crucifixion hidden amongst the letters of the Suffering Servant passage. We find the name of the high priest and the various elements of the Passover feast. We find the names of the disciples coded in Isaiah 52 and 53. It gets even better. “James” isn’t listed once, but twice, which is interesting because there were two disciples named James. Both James the son of Zebedee, brother of John, and James the son of Alphaeus would have witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. [59] The name “Mary” is encoded three times, along the woman Salome. One of the Marys was Jesus’ own mother, but we also find Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” involved personally in Christ’s death. [60] Any one of these names in isolation would not be particularly impressive. For instance, the name “Philip” is found 15 places elsewhere in Isaiah while the name “Thomas” shows up more than 200 times in Isaiah. The isolated appearance of any one name is not so important. We’re interested in the ELS codes here because of the clustering of names all in one small location. There are more than 40 words relevant to the crucifixion of Christ densely encrypted in the 15 sentences of this passage. To suggest that this just happened by random chance denies the overwhelming strength of the evidence. There are some interesting things to note. One of the three ELS codes for “Mary” is encrypted in such a way that it interweaves with “John.” We find this significant when we recall that, while He was hanging on the cross, Jesus handed responsibility of His mother to His disciple, John. [61] What’s more, all three sequences of “Mary” use the same letter yod that encodes the name “Yeshua.”” (Dr. Chuck Missler, The Fulcrum of the Entire Universe Isaiah 53: The Pivot Point of All History, 1166-1184 (Kindle Edition); Coeur d’Alene, ID; Koinonia House). 

Incredible!  

Design Or Coincidence?  

Many may suggest that the Bible Codes are simply a coincidence. What are the odds of these “codes” being simply a coincidence?  

In 1994, a paper entitled “Equidistant Letter Sequences In The Book Of Genesis” was published in the well-known journal, Statistical Science.

The study was overseen by three Israeli mathematicians Doron Witztum, Yoav Rosenberg, and Eliyahu Rips at the Hebrew University and the Jerusalem College of Technology.  

The details of the study (as well as their shocking conclusions) are recounted by Missler:

“In 1994, researchers Doron Witzum, Eliyahu Rips, and Yoav Rosenberg caused a great uproar. The men had conceived of an experiment in the mid-1980s, the results of which they eventually submitted to a prestigious peer-reviewed journal called Statistical Science . In their experiment, they formed a list of 34 of the most prominent rabbis in Jewish history along with their dates of birth and death. Remarkably, each rabbi was found in the Bible encrypted with those dates of birth and death. The statistical likelihood of this taking place was about 1 in 775 million, but the statistical review board thought it was contrived. They said, “Let’s add another 32 rabbis to your list.” The researchers agreed and added 32 additional names, along with their dates of birth and death. These additional 32 were also found. (Dr. Chuck Missler, The Fulcrum of the Entire Universe Isaiah 53: The Pivot Point of All History, 1116-1126 (Kindle Edition); Coeur d’Alene, ID; Koinonia House)

The study in Statistical Science Journal concluded with these words: 

““We conclude that the proximity of the ELS’s (Equidistant Letter Sequences) with related meanings in the Book of Genesis is not due to chance.”

We should also consider the amazing work of Professor Harold Gans.  

Being a U.S. intelligence expert who has spent years studying complicated foreign intelligence codes for the Armed Forces, as well as a brilliant mathematician who has published in well over 100 prestigious magazines, Gans decided to carefully examine the authenticity of these codes.  

When he first heard of equidistant letter skipping in the Hebrew text from his friend Professor Doron Witztum (who was also a skeptic of these matters), he believed that these things were “ridiculous.”  

Gans created a very sophisticated computer program in 1989 to determine whether these “codes” were actually true, or were the result of sloppy research.

For nineteen days and nights, he had his computer carefully examine all of the 78, 604 Hebrew letters in the Book of Genesis.  
As a result of his careful research, he was forced to conclude that the codes found in the Old Testament through equidistant letter skipping are very real, and cannot be the result of random chance or human design.  
He has been so convicted by his careful investigations that he travels around the world, teaching in various synagogues about these matters, and works to show nonbelievers through these evidences that the Bible is, indeed, the inspired Word of God.  

It is also worth noting that, when these same studies were conducted using other religious texts besides the Bible, the “codes” were not found.  

The evidence is mounting that the Bible Codes are very real, and may not be explained by mere coincidence or unaided human wisdom.  

One Possible Reason God May Have Put The Bible Codes In The Text

One former skeptic of the Bible Codes, Grant Jeffrey, is now a firm believer in the Bible Codes.

He believes that one of the reasons why God encoded these messages into the Bible text is for Christian apologetics to an unbelieving world.  

While other evidences of the inspiration of the Bible can confirm that the Bible is the inspired Word of God (prophecy and fulfillment, scientific foreknowledge of the Bible writers, supernatural unity of the Bible writers, miraculous and archaeological attestation, etc.), Jeffrey believes that the Bible Codes may help provide another layer of evidence for our extremely skeptical day and age: 

“When I first heard about the codes during a trip to Israel in the late 1980s, I was naturally quite skeptical. However, after more than fifteen years of careful evaluation of the phenomenon, I believe that there is powerful evidence that the code is genuine. Additional research during the last six years has provided more evidence that God placed these codes in the Scriptures. They provide fascinating details about historical events that have come to pass thousands of years after the biblical text was written. The Bible Codes provide a new type of evidence that supplements the many other types of evidence that prove the Scriptures are supernatural. This discovery may provide a last measure of incontrovertible evidence to our skeptical generation that the Bible is the inspired Word of God….There is no question that the Bible Codes represent an astonishing new claim that demands a high level of validation before we should accept it. By nature I am a skeptic. When I first heard about this, I thought that the claims of the code researchers seemed unbelievable. That is why I am not offended in the slightest when someone tells me that they cannot accept the Bible Codes as genuine. However, after almost a dozen years of research, I am more convinced than ever that God placed the Bible Codes within the text of the Bible to prove to this skeptical generation through this remarkable new evidence that He inspired the human writers to record His revelation to humanity in the Word of God…With powerful apologetic evidence, Christians can challenge the skeptics in our generation to seriously consider the claims of the Bible that it is the supernatural Word of God. The Lord commands Christians, in the words of 1 Peter, to be prepared to explain and defend the reasonableness of our faith in the Bible and in Jesus Christ. We need to be prepared to persuade men and women to turn from their unbelief to seriously consider the claims of Jesus Christ. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). In light of God’s command to defend our faith to our generation of unbelievers, I find it natural that we should from time to time discover new types of evidence in both the text of the Scriptures as well as in the world of science and archeology. I found an interesting quotation from the Christian writer, Joseph Butler, in his The Analogy of Religion that illustrates this point. “Nor is it at all incredible that a book which has been so long in the possession of mankind, should contain many truths as yet undiscovered.” (Grant R. Jeffrey, The Signature Of God: Conclusive Proof That Every Teaching, Every Command, Every Promise In The Bible Is True, 224-227 (Kindle Edition); Colorado Springs, Colorado; Waterbrook Press)

Conclusion 

When I study with people about the evidences that the Bible is the Word of God, I often use the “traditional” proofs that are proven and true (prophecy and fulfillment, the scientific foreknowledge of the Bible writers, supernatural unity of the Bible writers, miraculous and archaeological confirmation, etc.).  

While I continue to use these proofs, I must admit that I am also quite stunned and astonished at the topics that I have written about in this article. I believe that they may have very real value in helping to teach unbelievers the trurhfulness of Christianity.

I have literally just scratched the surface with these matters!  

Everything works together to demonstrate that the Bible is, indeed, the Word of God-and its’ message to mankind is true.  

God made mankind out of an act of grace (Psalm 136).

However, mankind chose to rebel against his Creator and break His Law (which is the definition of sin-1 John 3:4; James 4:17).

When we choose to thus sin against the Lord, we separate ourselves from Him (Isaiah 59:1-2). This will lead to eternal separation from the perfectly holy God in a terrible place called “Hell” (Romans 6:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).  

If that were the “end of the story,” then we would have absolutely no hope.  

Yet God has made a way to save us, by sending His “suffering Servant” to die in the place of mankind (Isaiah 53).

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for all people on the cross of Calvary (1 Timothy 2:6). He was buried, and He arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).  

He has promised to Return one Day (John 14:1-3), and He will judge all people on that Day (John 12:48).

Our only hope is if we are found in Him when He returns.  

God has promised that all believers who have heard His Word, repent of their sins, and are baptized into Him on a confession of faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son will be forgiven of all sin (Acts 2:37-47; 8:35-38).

If we are faithful to Him to death, we will receive the blessing of an eternal Home in Heaven with Him and each other (Revelation 2:10).  

When we sin as Christians and fall short, God forgives us when we repent of that sin and confess it to Him in prayer (1 John 1:8-2:2).  

Why not turn to the Lord today?  
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

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