With the current Hebrew version of Genesis 1:1 the number Pi can be found within a gematria calculation. I am curious how far back it goes and if it exists in the earliest versions of Genesis 1:1 or if it has been changed at some point.


(Interestingly using the same method John 1:1 calculates to the number "e", also known as Euler's number.)

The link above has the Genesis 1:1 calculation for the text.

בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ

bere'shiyth bara' 'elohiym 'eth ha-shamayim we'eth ha-'arets.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

If you check the link you can see it requires word for word and letter for letter precision to calculate Pi, so I am curious to know how far back it goes, and if earlier versions differed.

Where can I find the earliest versions of Genesis 1:1?

  • 2
    The Genesis 1:1 calculation results in 3.1415545…, which is 99.998786…% of the true value of π, almost 5 nines of precision. Can we do better than that? ¶ The word "creator" occurs only 5 times in the King James Bible. It also has 71 "womb"s and 113 "firstborn"s. ¶ Calculating: "creator × womb ÷ firstborn" = 3.1415929…, which is 99.999991…% of the true value of π. That's 7 nines, 100 times more accurate than Genesis. ¶ 5, 71, and 113 are all prime numbers, which is a strong confirmation these are the correct words. ¶ It also proves that the KJV is the only real version of the Bible. Sep 4 at 5:30
  • 1
    This is beautiful @RayButterworth. Whatever the OP is doing, it is not Biblical Hermeneutics. Perhaps this question might be more suited to Mi Yoneda or some other site where the use of gematria to find transcendental constants is more appropriate?
    – Robert
    Sep 6 at 5:11

The consonantal text of Genesis 1:1 as quoted by OP is the only ancient Hebrew text known for this verse:

בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ
brʾšyt brʾ ʾlhym ʾt hšmym wʾt hʾrṣ

The oldest known manuscript of this famous text is from the Dead Sea Scrolls, 4Q7 = 4QGeng. Unfortunately it is a broken text, but there is sufficient visible (for the purposes of this question) to confirm that its text is the same as the familiar one known from the standard text of the Hebrew Bible:


Whether this is the oldest form of this Hebrew is a different question, however. Epigraphic Hebrew -- the "living" form of the language during the biblical period -- did not use internal "vowel letters" (consonants used to indicate vowels), although their use grew perceptibly from the 10th to 1st C BCE. Jeremy Hutton ("Orthography: Epigraphy", in Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics [Brill, 2015]) writes:

The representation of long, word-internal vowels was apparently a secondarily adapted feature which gained in frequency and regularity during the Persian and Hellenistic periods.

If the oldest form of the first verse of Genesis followed these orthographic conventions, then it would probably read:

brʾšt brʾ ʾlhm ʾt hšmym wʾt hʾrṣ
      ^ ^

That is, the first two occurrences of /y/ in the transliteration above would be missing (the "gap" noted by ^ below the line). (The last /y/ is consonantal.)

Such an orthography would, of course, render meaningless the calculation of π described by OP. I reiterate, though, that this is a hypothetical text, and not one that exists in any known manuscripts. And it is clear that the י in אלהים is present in 4QGeng, as would be expected by this date:



While the text itself has not changed, the method of gematria used with the text was changed by Judah the Patriarch in the 2nd Century CE when Merkabah was prohibited from discussion.1 The oldest gematria belongs to the Merkabah 2 and was extant at the time the Torah was written.3 It returns the following values for the first line of Genesis:

בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ

In the beginning (220) created (203) Elohim (86) ath (+) The Heavens (98) vath (and +) The Earth (296).

The value of the first word (בראשית) is 220, and 220 / 7 = 31.42857 and by moving the base point along by 10 gives 3.142857 which is the well known ancient approximation for Pi.

A fuller analysis of Genesis 1:1 with the gematria of the Merkabah can be found here.


  1. The Faces of the Chariot: Early Jewish Responses to Ezekiel’s Vision, by Professor David Joel Halperin, page 14.

    Mishnah Haggidah 2:1
    “The Merkabah may not be expounded by an individual unless he is a scholar ‎who understands on his own”;

  2. Reader’s Guide to Judaism, by Sarah Pessin, page 457:

    Gematria key:
    א 1 ב 2 ג 3 ש 3 ד 4 ת 4 ה 5 ו 6 ז 7 ח 8 ט 9 י 10 כ 20 ל 30 מ 40 נ 50 ס 60 ע 70 פ 80 צ 90 ק 100 ר 200

  3. "A Mesopotamian Background for the So-Called Aggadic ‘Measures’ of Biblical Hermeneutics?", by Stephen J. Lieberman, Hebrew Union College Annual Vol. 58 (1987), pp. 157-225.

    Lieberman concludes that, given the employment of numerological techniques before and during the composition of the Hebrew Bible, it is entirely possible that Gematria was employed in the biblical text itself, encoding hidden messages, and this is something that the gematria of the Merkabah confirms Q.E.D.

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