Sonderbooks     Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

More Info from

Rate this Book

Sonderbooks 43
Previous Book
Next Book

    Current Issues
        Previous Book
Next Book
Young Adult Fiction
Children's Nonfiction
Children's Fiction
Picture Books

2002 Stand-outs
Five-Star Books
Four-Star Books
Old Favorites
Back Issues
List of Reviews by Title
List of Reviews by Author

Links For Book Lovers

About Me
Contact Me
Post on Bulletin Board

I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations


***Bible Code II

The Countdown

by Michael Drosnin

Reviewed December 7, 2002.
Viking, New York, 2002.  292 pages.

I feel a little sheepish endorsing this book, as it seems to be heading toward sensationalism.  The author talks more about a hidden code discovered by computers in the ancient text of the Bible.  He states that that code reveals the Twin Towers disaster and that it also predicts World War III in the year 2006 and the end of days.

I’m a Christian, so I have no trouble believing that there is a complex code hidden in the text of the Bible that couldn’t possibly have been put there by human intelligence.  I read The Bible Code when it came out in 1998.  Before I read it, I didn’t think it was probably true, since I figured that you can find anything if you adapt what you’re looking for to fit.

Reading the book changed my mind.  As a sometime mathematician, I was impressed by the research that went into finding the Bible Code.  Researchers took names from a Hebrew Encyclopedia of Sages.  They used a computer to choose the first 34 names that had more than a certain number of inches of print in the entries.  Then they searched for those names encoded in the Bible, along with their birth and death dates.  They also mixed up the birth and death dates to go with the wrong people and searched for those hundreds of  thousands of different combinations.  Astonishingly, the best match was the one that was correct.  It is virtually impossible that this could have happened by chance.

They also tried this in two other Hebrew texts of similar length and did not get the same results at all.  It seems pretty dramatic evidence that there is a code hidden in the Bible.

This code consists of equidistant letter sequences—for example, looking at every fifth letter.  Only in these cases, it is often more like every 758th letter.  Once a word has been found, say, every 758th letter, the text of the entire Torah is arranged into rows of 758 letters each and other words and dates can be found, crossword puzzle fashion.  (In Hebrew, numbers are written using letters.)  This has only been discovered now because only now do we have powerful enough computers to do the work.

What astonished me about the original Bible Code book and what continues to astonish me is that the author, Michael Drosnin, states again and again that he does not believe in God.  He has gained complete faith in this hidden code, but he refuses to put faith in the plain written text that’s there for all to see.  The Bible has already had amazing prophecies fulfilled, but he is only interested in what he thinks are encoded prophecies.  To me, the Bible Code is only one more bit of evidence that the Bible is a supernatural book.

In this second book, Michael Drosnin talks about the “countdown.”  He found “Twin” and “Towers” encoded with “airplane” and “knocked down,” among other passages seeming to refer to September 11.  He is especially concerned with a passage where he finds “the end of days” encoded twice along with Arafat, E. Barak, Sharon, and Bush.  This same passage has the word “peace” intertwined with “terror.”  Worse yet, he finds “World War” and “Atomic holocaust” encoded with the Hebrew date for 2006.

I think that I believe in the existence of Bible codes, but I’m still a bit skeptical of some of these findings, as it seems they are choosing what words to find, and I would think that some of that could happen by chance.  The odds they give would be clouded by the fact that they did not find a similar phrase.  Why, for example, in that section with all those names is Barak the only one with a first initial?

He offers probabilities of these combinations happening by chance, but doesn’t tell how they were calculated.  It sounds bogus to me.  To get the correct probability, you would have to calculate the individual odds for all the combinations you would have considered correct—For example, all the possible combinations of “World Trade Center,” “Twin Towers” (with the words together or separate), “airplanes” with an “s,” and all the other words you could think of like “hijacked,” “smashed,” “destruction,” etc.  To get the true probability, you would have to add up all the probabilities of all the combinations that you would have found significant.  It would be a good deal bigger than the probability of any one of the combinations individually.  I’d like to know about the words they looked for and didn’t find.

Mind you, the original experiment with names and dates was well-designed.  They even had someone from outside the experiment pick the spelling of the names.  I think it dramatically demonstrates that there is a code hidden in the Bible.  It is when it comes to predicting the future that I feel a bit more skeptical, and I think the probabilities given should be taken with a grain of salt.

In every second chapter, Drosnin writes about his search for the Code Key, an object he hasn’t found yet that he believes is buried near the Dead Sea.  He goes on about aliens and the origins of life, and it seems pretty far out there.  It will be interesting to see if he finds anything.

I found it rather amusing when Drosnin explained how he found “President Bush” crossed with “President” and also “by mistake, in error.”  Next to Al Gore, he found “President” but he also found “a judge will rule now, evil will be done to you.”  I guess I know where he stands politically!

As for the date of 2006, I take comfort in Jesus’ words that “you do not know the day or the hour.”  My mother used to tell me that if they give a day, then you know they’re wrong.  Of course, then it occurs to me that the verse doesn’t say that we don’t know the year!

The Bible does say, plainly and for all to read, that there are terrible times and a day of judgment coming.  Revelation talks about a third of mankind dying at a time.  It also says that there will be a seven-year time of tribulation, and during this time an evil world leader will arise who will rule the whole world.  Somehow, now it’s all too easy to imagine a disaster happening that could trigger these things.

I believe that the Bible is true, but I’m afraid I was selfishly hoping, for my own sake and the sake of my children, that these events are still far in the future.  Unfortunately, it’s terribly easy to imagine events playing out to an atomic holocaust in 2006.  The resonance with Thomas Friedman’s book, Longitudes and Attitudes, was particularly troubling.  The scenario Michael Drosnin was presenting as prophetic, Thomas Friedman was presenting as the logical result of the way things are going.

Michael Drosnin believes that the Bible Code was revealed at this time so that we could make the choice and do something about it.  I like that view.  Although I do believe that the prophecies will happen, I like to think that we have some choice as to when.  For example, I think maybe World War II could have led into the Great Tribulation, but that was averted by mankind fighting the evil.  Maybe we can avert evil again.  I hope and pray that is the case.

If you’re interested in the Bible Code, you should probably start with the first book, as it gives more details of the experiments that were done to test the code.  This second book is more speculative, because he’s trying to predict instead of just showing that events of history were recorded in the Bible 3,000 years before they happened.

I’ve long held that prophecy isn’t given to enable us to make a chart of exactly what is going to happen in the future.  It’s given so that when we see it fulfilled we will recognize the hand of God.  It is also given so that we know Who wins in the end, and we can make sure that we are on the winning side.

A related book:
His Name Is Jesus:  The Mysterious Yeshua Codes, by Yacov Rambsel 

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

-top of page-