Back in the summer of 2006 I read a series of online articles about the mathematical properties of the first verse in the Bible. Using standard Hebrew gematria, Genesis 1:1 adds up to 2,701 — a number with some interesting properties, being not only the 73rd triangular number, but also the product of the fourth hex number (37) and the fourth star number (73). Not many numbers are the product of the nth hex and nth star — 2,701 is only the fourth such number, and the next two are 7,381 and 16,471. Aside from its gematria properties, Genesis 1:1 consists of 28 letters, which is also a triangular number.
Since at that time I’d been playing around with English-language gematria, it occurred to me to see if I could find an English passage that could duplicate some of the mathematical properties of Genesis 1:1. Ideally I wanted a text which is to English what the Bible is to Hebrew, so I tried the first verse of the Book of Mormon — looked it up online, calculated its value using S:E:G: (A=1, B-2,… Z=26), and found the result mathematically boring. Moved on to other pastimes.
A few months later I was at a friend’s house reading a Whitley Strieber novel when suddenly a passage from the Book of Mormon popped into my head: “…and all things are become slippery, and we cannot hold them.” Immediately, and inexplicably, an idea about that passage popped into my head and, not having a Book of Mormon or a computer handy, I jotted it down on my bookmark to check later. I wrote: “all things are become slippery — complete quote — same properties as Gen 1:1.”
Later, at home, I searched for that passage on lds.organd found the complete quotation of which it was a part, from the sermon of Samuel the Lamanite, in the 13th chapter of Helaman. It was rather long:
O that we had remembered the Lord our God in the day that he gave us our riches, and then they would not have become slippery that we should lose them; for behold, our riches are gone from us. Behold, we lay a tool here and on the morrow it is gone; and behold, our swords are taken from us in the day we have sought them for battle. Yea, we have hid up our treasures and they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land. O that we had repented in the day that the word of the Lord came unto us; for behold the land is cursed, and all things are become slippery, and we cannot hold them. Behold, we are surrounded by demons, yea, we are encircled about by the angels of him who hath sought to destroy our souls. Behold, our iniquities are great. O Lord, canst thou not turn away thine anger from us?
It took me a few minutes, but I added it all up using S:E:G: and got 7,381 — a triangular number. It’s the product of 61 and 121, which are, respectively the fifth hex number and the fifth star number. (You can see this on a Chinese checkers board, which has 121 holes, 61 of which are in the central hexagon.) To complete the parallel with Genesis, I counted up the letters in the passage and found that there are 630 — which, as you can see below, is also a triangular number.
What to make of it? It’s not all that surprising that buried somewhere in the middle of the Book of Mormon is a passage with similar mathematical properties to Genesis 1:1 — but it is surprising, inexplicable really, that that particular passage, together with the knowledge that it had said properties, would pop into my head out of nowhere more than five years after I’d last read the Book of Mormon. It seems almost miraculous.
I say almost because, after all, I had read the Book of Mormon before, so all the data needed to produce this numerological discovery was already stored away in my head somewhere. Consciously, I couldn’t even remember the content of the complete passage, nor did I consciously know what number it added up to — but could it be that my subconscious had been quietly working for months, plugging through the Book of Mormon by memory and testing every passage to see if it fit what I had been looking for? I guess that would be my pet theory, since viewing it as a literal revelation (from whom? why?) makes even less sense.
About a year ago, this whole thing was brought back into my mind because of a dream I had. I saw the prophet Jeremiah staring at a large matrix of numbers — I had the impression that it was a magic square of order 11 (anachronistically written out in Arabic numerals, my BS detector reminds me, lest I be tempted to think I’d had a vision of the “real” Jeremiah). He explained to me that the entire Book of Lamentations had been revealed to him through contemplating those numbers. In fact, he said, he could have written a much longer book using this method, since there were infinitely many levels on which the numbers could be interpreted. The next morning, out of curiosity, I tried writing out an order-11 magic square just to see if it suggested anything to me about the sacking of Jerusalem. It didn’t, of course, but I did notice something else: the sum of all the numbers in an order-11 magic square is 7,381, and that number seemed awfully familiar.