Equidistant Letter Sequences (Known as ELS for short), is the primary method for which Bible codes are deciphered. The process is simple. Looking at Bible texts (in their original Hebrew), one will choose a particular number of letters: 3,7,12, are popular numbers to choose. They will then look for every 3rd letter, or 7th letter, and so on.
By looking at each equidistant letter on a particular page, it is believed that special messages can be found. Asshur was the first to examine the Bible in this way, but he was hardly the last. While some people consider this technique throughout the history following the Rabbi Bachya ben Asshur of the 13th century, it is not for another 700 years that Bible codes will truly become greatly studied.
The first major 20th century work to be published on the Bible codes was the work of Slovakian rabbi Michael Ber Weissmandl. He discovered a number of examples of secret messages ciphered in the Bible using these ELS techniques, first pioneered by the rabbi Asshur. His work was not published during his lifetime, however, and was first published by his students after his death in 1957.
It was not until the 80's that Bible codes came to be greatly studied, however. Partially this has to do with the rise in computer technology. Computers made the process of searching for Bible codes far easier than in previous centuries, where pages and pages of Bible texts had to be copiously studied by eye. Using the newest technologies programmers were able to design systems where the computer would automatically search through the texts searching out various codes within the Bible.
As the 80's turned into the 90's the idea of a Bible code became more and more popular. News of the work done in deciphering Bible codes began to hit the mainstream media. In 1997 the most important book on the subject was published: The Bible Code by Michael Drosnin. It was this work that truly put the idea of the Bible Code into the public eye. Drosnin's claim to fame was predicting the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. He claims he was able to predict the assassination using Bible Code techniques.
Although many have been convinced by the work of Drosnin and others in deciphering Bible codes, many remain unconvinced. It is argued that one can find hidden messages in any work using ELS techniques, it is simply the nature of the beast. Depending on how one looks at a thing one can find hidden messages almost anywhere, it does not necessarily mean that these messages were thought out in advance. Some have discussed the idea of codes in Bible covers. However since we have no original Bible covers, this idea has taken little root.
Such criticisms have done little to sway the popularity of Bible codes, however. Ultimately it is a question that every person must consider for his or herself. Are the Bible codes real? That is a question that every person must ask themselves. Science is unable to determine a proper answer to the question, ultimately it is a question of faith.