Gematria In A Nutshell

Letter Numerals

The basis of gematria is the ancient practice of using letters from the alphabet to represent numbers. Large numbers were represented by strings of these 'letter numerals', which were usually summed to give a total. A vestige of this practice is the system of Roman numerals, where seven letters from the latin alphabet are assigned numerical values: M = 1000, D = 500, C = 100, L= 50, X = 10, V = 5, I = 1. So the number 1160 can be represented as MCLX.

MCLX = 1000 + 100 + 50 + 10 = 1160

The ancient Greeks at first used a numeral system similar to the Romans. However, by at least the 4th Century BC, this had been superceded by a more comprehensive system, known as Ionian numerals. Here, the twenty-seven numbers 1 to 9, 10 to 90 and 100 to 900 were each represented by a single letter. This was eventually reduced to twenty-four letters, to give the following substitution scheme. [1]

Greek Substitution Scheme

Sometime in the 1st Century BC, the Hebrews adapted the Ionian system of numeration to their own alphabet [2]. This has only twenty-two characters, and in this case the numbers 1 to 9, 10 to 90 and 100 to 400 were represented by single Hebrew characters. [3]

Hebrew Substitution Scheme

Words and phrases are also strings of letters and therefore can also be assigned numerical values. For instance, the Hebrew word transliterated as ‘Yahweh’, which means ‘the Lord’, has a numerical value of 26, calculated as shown:


The numeration of words, phrases, etc, is associated with the widely adopted traditional practice known as gematria to the Hebrews



Gematria operates on the belief that a kind of cyphertext exists within language, revealed by numerating words and phrases. Hebrew has always been the language most closely associated with gematria, which was developed in biblical times and is still practiced today. Hebrew words and phrases of equal or related numerical value are thought to be ‘explanatory of each other’, which is seen as evidence that the Hebrew language is divinely inspired. In other words, the lexicon, spelling rules and grammatical structure of the language are claimed to have evolved not unconsciously, as we might assume, but under intelligent guidance, to create a cyphertext of information encrypted within the written word. The same guidance is also supposed to have overseen the writing of the Hebrew Bible.

When used in gematria, the numeration scheme introduced above is here known as the standard value. As gematria developed, other schemes of numeration were included. Perhaps the most commonly employed alternative scheme (and the most natural one) is the replacement of a letter by its place value in the alphabet, and known as the ordinal value. Another useful system is the reduction of the standard/ordinal value to one digit by cross-addition, known as the reduced value.

The word 'gematria' is thought to be derived from a Greek word meaning 'earth measures'. Accordingly, there is a third, geometric element to gematria, particularly involving figurate numbers: numbers that can be represented by geometric figures composed of regular arrays of discrete units. For example, here are the first ten triangular numbers.



English Gematria

There is no tradition of using the letters of the English language as numbers for counting purposes, for which Roman and later Arabic numerials have always been employed. However, as knowledge of gematria spread across Europe, the Greek and Hebrew systems were adapted to other languages, including English.

Two substitution schemes were given to me to crack the New Bible Code: the standard value system, as applied to the English alphabet, and the ordinal value system. Both schemes are tabulated below.

Ordinal and Standard Values

As with the Greek and Hebrew systems, the numerical value of an English word or phrase is calculated by summing the individual letter values under a single scheme. The scheme applied is indicated by its initial letter, shown in parenthesis. For example, the word ‘Jesus’ can be numerated under the standard and ordinal value systems as follows:

Jesus (s) = 10 + 5 + 100 + 300 + 100 = 515
Jesus (o) = 10 + 5 + 19 + 21 + 19 .......= 74

A further two numeration systems play a supplimentary role within the New Bible Code. One is the reduced value scheme mentioned earlier, denoted by (r). The other is the sum of the values obtained under the other three systems and is called the combined value, denoted by (c). [5] Here are the reduced value and combined value of the name ‘Jesus’.

Jesus (r) = 1 + 5 + 1 + 3 + 1 = 11
Jesus (c) = 515 + 74 + 11 ...= 600

As an example of English gematria, here are a list of meaningfully-related English phrases, along with their ordinal values.

Jesus Christ (o) ........... = 151
Holy Spirit (o) .............
= 151
Jesus is Lord (o) ..........
= 151
Christ the King (o) .......
= 151
Lord of Hosts (o) .........
= 151
The Sacrificial Lamb (o).
= 151
The Incarnation (o) ......
= 151

The number 151 seems to be an 'attractor' for phrases related to Jesus Christ. As stated, gematria has a geometric dimension and 151 has geometric properties which provide further meaningful links. In particular it is a fractal snowflake. [6]

Snowflake 151

The internal hexagram is made from 37 discs and 37 is the reduced value of 'the Lord' and 'Spirit'. So we have an intriguing link between these divine names through gematria and also through the symbolism of the Star of David. This figure is discussed in other pages on this site, particularly A Flurry of Snowflakes and The Creation Snowflake.

Of course modern English has a huge vocabulary and there are many phrases and the occasional word, all unrelated to Jesus Christ, that will have an ordinal value of 151. This is true, as is the fact that the distribution of numerical values amongst words and phrases is fairly even. But gematria is concerned with meaning and import and when these are taken into account patterns emerge that cannot be explained away. There is no reason why so many phrases that just happen to be meaningfully related to the figure of Jesus Christ should have that value.

Gematria is the principal basis for a vital message encrypted within modern artifacts which I call the New Bible Code.


The New Bible Code

The New Bible Code is an encrypted message about our current age, found within the NIV Bible, the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and other millennial events and cultural artifacts.  The message is based on gematria but mainly exists independently of it, as a 'higher tier' of encoded information. It was decoded mainly by the numeration of word strings within the NIV text, biblical words and phrases and words and phrases relating to 9/11. It also takes advantage of numbers emerging from NIV's structural features, 9/11 and other events. Finally, the code occasionally references the Hebrew and Greek languages.

The encoded information generally takes the form of words and phrases relating recent events to biblical themes. In this way the code makes a stunning series of assertions about these events and some of the main players in them. In keeping with the traditional practice of gematria, part of the information takes the form of geometric figures: two figures in particular, a cube and a fractal snowflake, lie at the heart of the New Bible Code.


The Two-Stage Decoding Process

A unique feature of the New Bible Code is the way in which the encoded numbers, particularly those found within the text of the NIV, are meant to be decoded. This process utilises two numeration keys and has two steps:

Step 1               
A number is derived by calculating the ordinal value of a passage of biblical text, or occasionally from other significant sources
Step 2  
The derived number is the standard value of a word or phrase, usually English, either meaningfully related to the passage or meaningful within the larger context of the code

By this means one number serves as the link between two groups of words. Because the same input/output rules are repeatedly found (although there are minor variations on this basic format) this phenomenon is obviously of great significance.

To give a simple example of the two-step process at work, the first twelve words of the NIV Bible encode the word JESUS by the above two-step process.

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the ... (Genesis 1.1-2, NIV)

1st twelve words Genesis (o)
= 515
Jesus (s)                               = 515

The New Bible Code is based on the English language, but a few Hebrew and Greek words also appear to be included. Therefore, all three languages and all keys were necessary for breaking the code. [7]


The Code and Cryptography

In cryptology, the theory of codes and cyphers, the standard model for encryption and decryption is as follows:


In plain language, the sender of a message first encrypts it by using an encryption key, which creates a cyphertext. The cyphertext is then sent and decrypted by the receiver using a decryption key. The bulk of the codes that constitute the New Bible Code follow this model perfectly. This is easily shown by formulating example I gave above in terms of this model:

JESUS Convert to number 515 using standard value system 1st twelve words Genesis (NIV) Convert to number 515 using ordinal value system JESUS


Further Sources of Numbers

The very structure of the NIV Bible appears to be the result of intelligent design, for the purpose of encoding yet more numbers. In particular, many biblical passages appear to have been strategically placed so as to make use of various textual features:

1. Chapter and verse numbers.
2. The place values of books, chapters, verses, words and letters.
3. The place values of key words and letters within passages of text.
4. The number of words and letters in clauses, sentences and verses.
5. Numerical tables.
6. Numbers appearing within passages of text.






Furthermore, several outstanding numerical or positional features of the NIV Bible seem to be encoded, for instance the total number of verses in the NIV bible and the text beginning and ending each testament.

Similarly, numbers found within 9/11 (for instance, airplane flight numbers) are significant, as are dates and times related to events. One date in particular, the last day of the second millennium (31/12/00), seems to be the reference date for many events, connecting them in a web of meaning.


How Can We Be Sure?

Many numbers can be extracted from a string of words by numerating different portions of text. For instance, within a string of ten words, fifty-four shorter strings can be identified, some of which will, by chance, happen to coincide with a significant numerical value. How can we tell the difference between a real encoding and the ‘background noise’ of random numbers? Moreover, words occasionally share numerical values. How do we know what word a number is meant to imply? Two phenomena come to our aid here.

1. The Two-Stage Decoding Process

This process, which is unique to the New Bible Code, has the advantage of ensuring that numbers that might have bled through from the plain text are scrambled. Additionally, because standard values are much higher than ordinal and reduced values, they have a large spread, meaning that very few words share standard values. Therefore they are more significant than ordinal values, which by the same token are more significant than reduced values. In fact, within the New Bible Code, ordinal values are generally used only for encoding numbers that have meaning under the standard value system. Similarly, reduced values provide supplimentary information only. Combined values have a spread between standard and ordinal values and are used in the same way as standard values.

So, the standard value of ‘Jesus’, 515, is shared by only around 1 in 1000 words, and no other biblical name of which I am aware. Similarly, the standard value of ‘Beelzebub’, 1151, is, in all likelihood, unique to this name. Therefore the use of the standard value system to decode numbers (even though they are encoded using the ordinal value system) guarantees very little confusion about which word a number is meant to signify.

2. Confluence

Encoded numbers are usually found in clusters, often arranged within the text in regular patterns. For example, numbers can be encoded in successive blocks of words within the text, or the blocks of words can form symmetrical patterns within an important piece of text. Numbers can also 'cross' each other at certain points within the Bible, as, say, the positional value of a chapter in a book in relation to its positional value in the Bible. There are several variations on this phenomenon, bearing the hallmarks of an infinitely creative mind.

These are statistically-unlikely and therefore significant phenomena. Furthermore, there is always a meaningful relationship between the words the encoded numbers represent and the passage with which they are associated, or the location in which they are found—another form of confluence.


An Example

A dramatic example of an encoded number is given below. This is a good example not only of the two-stage encoding process but also of the phenomenon of confluence [8].

This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666. (Rev. 13:18, NIV)

Rev. 13:18 (o).         = 1151
Beelzebub (s) ..       = 1151

The third of the five clauses, " let him calculate the number of the beast" encodes a related idea.

Third clause Rev. 13:18 (o)   = 352
Satan (s)                               = 352

The fourth clause, "for it is man's number" encodes the number itself.

For it is man's number (o) ......= 216 ......= 6 x 6 x 6

Revelation 13:18 is the NIV Bible's 30911th verse and the New Testament's 7766th verse. 30911 contains the digit sequence 911 and 7766 is 11 x 706, so the numbers 911 and 11 appear to have been encoded too. [9]

It can be seen that the first piece of code, equating the verse with the name 'Beelzebub', is encoded within the entire verse, rather than one of the 324 substrings within the verse, which would be much less significant. There is a highly meaningful relationship between the subject of Revelation 13:18 and the word 'Beelzebub', which is a name for the Devil used consistently throughout the New Testament. The second and third pieces of code are encoded within clauses, which also increases the significance and shows that the code here is following the grammatical structure of the verse. The number 216 in the third example has meaning in itself. There is no known mechanism for a bleed-through of information from the surface text; any meaning should be lost through the conversion of letters to numbers, especially when the reverse process uses a different numeration system. Intelligent design is the obvious cause. [10]


Equidistant Letter Sequences

Since around 2008, it has become clear to me that information also appears to have been encoded within the NIV by the equidistant letter sequence (ELS) method, a phenomenon supposedly found in the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible). In this type of code, words and phrases are encoded within the text by separating their constituent letters from each other, rendering them undetectable to the reader of the text. The message can only be decoded by knowing the number of letters (the ‘skip interval’) between each encoded letter (the skip interval is always the same between each letter of information thought to be encoded).

The search for ELS codes requires the decoder to render the text as a continuous string of letters, chop it up into equal numbers of letters, then place them below each other in sequence. Any information that might be encoded at that skip interval will then be clearly visible, running vertically down the text. The encoded information is in the form of confluences of meaningfully-related words, rather than numbers. However, the skip interval itself can encode numbers.


Biblical Numerics

Certain biblical numbers are wrapped in symbolic meaning, being repeatedly found in association with the same ideas or themes. The study of these relationships is known as biblical numerics and some familiarity with this subject is necessary for a full appreciation of the code, which makes use of traditional biblical numerics. I have found E. H. Bullinger’s Number in Scripture and God's Kingdom Ministries to be particularly useful.

For information on figurate numbers, see Figuring Numbers.

For information on fractal snowflakes, see A Flurry of Snowflakes.


Bill Downie 24/2/05

Latest update 12/6/17



1. The numbers 6, 90 and 900 were represented by otherwise unused, archaic letters. These were digamma (6), stigma (6), koppa (90) and sampi (900).

2. For the historical background, I am summarising parts of the online paper Numeration Systems, by Gary Hardegree, University of Massachusetts, 2001.

3. The numbers from 500 to 900 were also sometimes represented by the sufit (end) forms of five characters. The five characters are kaph (500) mem (600), nun (700), pe (700), tsadhe (900).

4. Hebrew words and letter strings are read from right to left.

5. The combined value system has no real precedent and should be regarded as tentative. However, by the unusual way I was taught the scheme and from the spectacular results I have obtained by employing it, I am now convinced that it is divinely wrought.

6. This is the first iteration of a Koch antisnowflake, starting from a hexagon.

7. Gematria may well be built into in other, or even all, languages. For instance, the standard value of the Latin name for Jesus Christ, Iesum Christum, is 754. This is the same as the standard (absolute) value of the Hebrew name for Jesus Christ, Yehoshua Ha Mashiach! Whether or not the New Bible Code incorporates Latin gematria - or is perhaps part of a larger message involving more languages - I do not as yet know. If appropriate, I may include Latin gematria in future pages.

8. The digits of 666 are counted as three sixes, as if they were letters.

9. The zero in 30911 can perhaps be thought of as a spacer between 3 and 911. Other examples support this interpretation.

10. It should be noted that several more meaningfully related numbers are encoded within this particular verse.