A Review of:
The Bible Code II
by Michael Drosnin
reviewed by Randall
Posted December 6, 2004
Michael Drosnin has done it
If you thought Drosnin's first book The
Bible Code was a brilliant and scientific report on the Bible code,
unveiling the future, then you're going to love The Bible Code II, because it's more of the
And if you thought Drosnin's first book was a heaping steaming helping
of doggie-doo, then you're going to hate the sequel, because it's more of
In The Bible Code II, Drosnin spends
the bulk of the book promoting his thesis that the Bible code predicts a
nuclear holocaust (the End of Days) in 2006. Drosnin, let it be
clear, does not believe in God or prophecy. In his view, some
advanced civilization left a message encoded in the Bible to warn us of
Or not. As in The Bible Code,
Drosnin argues that the codes merely warn of possible outcomes, that we have freewill and
can choose our destiny.
I'm with Mikey on the freewill thing. I'm not with Mikey on the
rest of this stuff.
Oh, this is rich. Where to
Let's start with the obvious. There is almost no content to The Bible Code II. Drosnin hammers and
hammers on one "code", which appears in a great many matrices throughout
the book. This matrix centers on the phrase "in the end of days" in
the plaintext of the Bible (it appears at Deuteronomy 4:30). If you
read Hebrew, this phrase is "b'aharit ha-yamim".
Before reading the rest of this review, go ahead and read the context
of this key phrase in any Bible you have handy. You'll find that it
occurs in a speech given by Moses to Israel, warning them that in the
future, their descendants will fall into idolatry and be scattered to the
nations (as in fact happened -- Jerusalem was sacked by King
Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. and many of the inhabitants were carried off to
exile in Babylon). Moses continues his prediction that the captives
would turn to God in their distress and obey him "in days to come".
(This also happened, and many Jews returned to Jerusalem in the following
centuries. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah tell of the rebuilding of
the walls of Jerusalem and the discovery of the Torah.)
Are we clear here? Now the kicker is that the phrase I translated
above as "in days to come" is precisely the phrase our friend Mr. Drosnin
chooses to translate as "in the End of Days". I'll note that
precisely this Hebrew phrase occurs four times in the Torah, at Genesis
49:1, Numbers 24:14, Deuteronomy 4:30, and Deuteronomy 31:29. In all
four cases, it refers to events then future, but which are now many
centuries in the past. Look them up and see.
Why does Drosnin make such a big
deal out of this phrase (which is not even a "code", it is part of
the actual text of the Bible)? The answer is simple. Fairly
close to this phrase, one finds a phrase "qetz ha-yamin", meaning "the end
of days", occurring at a skip of 7551.
If you've never heard of the Bible code, you might need a little
explanation of skips here. The phrase in question (8 letters long in
Hebrew) is found as an "equidistant letter sequence" by skipping every
7551 letters of the plaintext of the Bible. So the "code" Drosnin
has found spans a distance of 52858 letters of plaintext. In fact,
one end of it lies in Numbers, and the other lies deep in Deuteronomy.
You may be sputtering here, "But what about copying mistakes in the
Bible? Wouldn't those mess up this so-called code?"
Well, yes. This is one reason why virtually no Biblical scholars
believe in the Bible codes.
Mr. Drosnin has an answer, of
course. On page 241, he says
"All Torahs -- the first five books of the Bible in
Hebrew -- that now exist are the same letter for letter, and cannot be
used if even one letter is wrong."
Drosnin made a similar claim in his first book, five years ago.
He was wrong then and he's still wrong. Drosnin uses the edition of
the Hebrew Bible published by the Koren Publishing Company in
Jerusalem. The Koren edition is not identical to any Torah scroll
from antiquity. One of the best ancient Torah scrolls, the Leningrad
Codex, which dates to the eleventh century, differs from the Koren version
in 41 letters in Deuteronomy. Prof. Shlomo Sternberg pointed this
out in his Bible Review article,
published in August 1997.
What this means is that Drosnin's second "End of Days" code, occurring
at a skip of 7551 letters in the modern Koren edition, does not occur in
the Leningrad Codex. Nor in any other ancient scroll. This
code is a figment. If Drosnin wants to believe it's authentic, he's
welcome to say so. He's welcome to scare the daylights out of
people. He's welcome to earn big bucks doing so. But he's
still wrong, and believing it doesn't make it true.
Virtually the entire rest of the book centers on Drosnin's attempts to
milk this matrix for new information. He finds "Bush" (three
letters). He finds "Arafat" (five letters). He finds "EBarak"
(four letters). And he finds "Sharon" (four letters). None of
these are particularly surprising. Short "codes" of 3, 4, or 5
letters occur even in random texts with high frequency.
Much of the book contains a rambling
story of Drosnin's attempts to contact the various named leaders to
persuade them that the world is in danger of a nuclear holocaust
instigated by terrorists, and that we ought to do something about
it. This is supposed to be a surprise? People have been
talking about suitcase nuclear bombs for quite some time. David
Hagberg wrote a novel entitled Critical
Mass in 1992 with that plot. And Frederick Forsyth wrote
The Fourth Protocol in the 1980s
with a similar story-line.
What is new here is that Drosnin attaches a date to his predicted
nuclear holocaust: 2006. Conveniently, this prediction is not
iron-clad. The Bible code encodes "possibilities" not
certainties. We can avoid the disaster by acting now, Drosnin
says. We need peace in the Middle East. Well, duh. Peace
would be nice.
In the meantime, it's a win-win-win situation for Drosnin. If
something horrible happens in the next few years, then he told us
so. If nothing happens, why it's because people heeded his warnings
in time. And in either case, he's selling a ton of books now, which
can't hurt the old bankroll.
There's a bit more in the book besides
giving peace a chance. Drosnin believes that there's some
sort of alien artifact near a place called Lisan on the east coast of the
Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is lowering, you see, and there are places
now on dry land that have been underwater for the last few thousand
years. Drosnin finds a whole pile of "codes" that give him more and
more information on this mythical artifact. It's an obelisk.
It's a steel vehicle. It's an alien code. It's the
Drosnin spends a bit of time building this up with an account of his
attempts to get permission to dig at the site. Wouldn't you know it,
those Jordanians wouldn't give permission? There's no peace in the
area, you see, and Drosnin is Jewish, so they just won't let him find that
dratted obelisk which will be the fix to all our problems. That's
his explanation anyway. A cynic might suggest that maybe the
Jordanians just think Drosnin's a whackball.
There's still more. Drosnin spends much time telling us of his
many encounters with Eliyahu Rips, the Israeli mathematician who is one of
the very few scientists who believe in the Bible codes. Drosnin even
gives Doron Witztum a little air time in this book. Witztum is the
fellow who wrote that famous paper with Rips that got so much press time
in 1994 and since. For some reason, Mr. Drosnin has given Witztum
extremely low coverage in his two books. But it's Rips again in this
book, over and over, telling us of the claimed low probabilities that any
of these codes could happen by chance. There is no way to check any
of these, since Drosnin doesn't tell us how those probabilities were
calculated. Which is probably just as well, since such calculations
by Bible coders are notoriously . . . wrong.
The scary thing about this book
is not Drosnin's claim of a hidden prophecy of impending nuclear
holocaust. That is thoroughly bogus and few will be taken in by it
this time around.
No, the scary thing is that Drosnin has apparently succeeded in
catching an earlobe of several of the major players. Drosnin had a
personal interview with Yassir Arafat on April 13, 2001. Drosnin spent
time with Ariel Sharon's son. With Shimon Peres. With the head
of the Mossad. With Bill Clinton's chief of staff, John
Podesta. And some of these folks took him seriously, at least
according to Drosnin. Does that scare you as much as it does me?
I'll close with some observations
on a quote from page 278 of Drosnin's book:
"Perhaps that is why nearly everyone outside of a
small circle of scientists accepts the reality of the Bible
Once again, no, on several counts.
In fact, the overwhelming majority of scientists and Biblical scholars
reject the Bible code. Barry
Simon's web site contains the names of more than 50 mathematicians who
have personally investigated the Bible code and found it not
credible. Drosnin is completely wrong. He implies also that
most nonscientists accept the codes. Again, he is flat-out
wrong. The great majority of the American public things the codes
are for nutcakes.
But what is even worse is that Drosnin is lumping together his own
fantasy-based attempts with the work of Eliyahu Rips, Doron Witztum, and
Yoav Rosenberg. Rips, Witztum, and Rosenberg published a
much-debated scientific paper in 1994. Though it has failed to gain
scientific acceptance, it was at least presented as a true scientific
experiment. Drosnin's work is not. His "codes" are not
science. They are not codes. They are so bogus it hurts.
All of this is just my opinion, of
course. If you really want to spend thirty bucks on Drosnin's
book, be my guest. But if you want my advice, you should pay with a
thirty-dollar bill. You'll get your money's worth.