## Ask Professor Puzzler

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"Good morning, I've been seeing some things lately about Donald Trump being in the Bible. Here are a few:

*King Cyrus was in Isaiah 45, and Trump is the 45th president, so Trump is the 'new' Cyrus.*

*Donald Trump was born 700 days before Israel declared independence.*

*777 days after Donald Trump's birthday, Israel was 77 days old.*

*Israel's 70th anniversary will come exactly 700 days after Donald Trump's 70th birthday.*

*Donald Trump won the election on Netanyahu's 7th year, 7th month, 7th day in office.*

What does all this mean?"

First of all, none of these things can be described as "Donald Trump being in the Bible." Most of them mention Israel, but the word "Israel" does not automatically make it a "Bible statement." With that in mind, let's talk about these three statements (I know, you're probably thinking "There are five statements, not three!" - you'll see why I say "three").

**Statement 1: **King Cyrus *is *discussed in Isaiah **45**. He's also discussed in: II Chronicles **36**, Ezra **1**, **3**, **4**, **5**, and **6**, Isaiah **44**, Isaiah **45**, Daniel **1**, **6**, and **10**. So unless you want to suggest that the first, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, tenth, thirty-sixth, and forty-fourth presidents are *also *the "new" Cyrus, there's not much point to this statement. Even if you limited it to Isaiah, or limited it strictly to passages that are prophecies, Isaiah **44** comes before Isaiah **45**, so that would make Obama the "new" Cyrus.

**Statements 2.0, 2.1, and 2.2:** These statements are all identical. Once you've stated that Israel declared independence 700 days after Donald Trump's birth, the next two sentences add no new information; they are mathematical restatements of the same equation. The fact that your source had so little clever numerology to share that they had to state the same fact three different ways seems a bit suspicious.

**Statement 3:** Uh...no? According to several sources, Netanyahu took office (for the second time) on March 31st, 2009. So if his first year in office was 2009, his seventh year was 2015, not 2016. Besides, even if the math had worked out correctly, why did we go to his *second* term, instead of his first, or third, or fourth?

There are some good lessons to learn here.

- Fact-checking is critical. Statement 3 doesn't pass even a basic fact-check attempt.
- In addition to fact-checking, we must also be able to look at the "bigger picture". The first statement you shared passes the "fact-check" test; Isaiah 45 really is about Cyrus. But the bigger picture is that Cyrus prophecies also exist elsewhere, so 45 is
*not*a special case. - Sometimes basic mathematical understanding will help keep you from getting "conned" - algebraic understanding lets you see that the middle statements are all the same statement.
- Be wary of statements about x number of months or years ago, because people trying to find interesting connections have a lot of flexibility in how they count. For example, how do you count a year? 365 days? Or are you going to include leap years? Or are you going to simply subtract one from the year number? The answer is: you count it whichever way gives you an interesting result. Similarly, how do you count a month? 30 days? 31? Or do you revert back to the same day a month previous? Do you count your days back FIRST and then your months? Or vice-versa? It actually matters. For example, 7 months and 77 days before November 30th is either February 13th or February 14th, depending on which order you subtract (I'll leave it to the reader to figure out why). Which way do you do it? There is no standard rule, so you do your subtraction, and if it doesn't produce any interesting gems, you cheat and do the subtraction a different way, and you keep doing that until you find something "interesting"
- It's extremely easy to use a date calculator and a "what happened on this date" webpage to find events that seem to "prove" something. For instance, did you know that 666 days before President Trump was elected, ISIS perpetrated a hack against the US Central Command, and 666 weeks before the election, Russian hackers performed a distributed denial of service attack against US interests? Furthermore, 666 months, 666 weeks, and 666 days after Donald Trump's birth, terrorists committed the largest single attack in French history. Do I think that "means" anything? No, I really don't. But I think it means exactly as much as the random facts that someone shared with you.

Incidentally, if you're fascinated by this kind of numerology stuff (and why wouldn't you be? Numerology has managed to incorrectly predict the end of the world about a billion times in the last two thousand years!), you should be an equal-opportunity numerologist; for every web page you find that "proves" through numerology that President Trump is the second coming of a Persian-king-who-was-never-promised-a-second-coming, you can find another web page that "proves" through numerology that he is the anti-Christ.

Numerology is a fascinating subject, but I've studied math and probability for far too long to be swayed by the numerical coincidences that happen on a daily basis around us!