10:18 GMT25 February 2020
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    The death toll from the 2019-nCov virus epidemic has risen to 361 in China. The number of cases worldwide has overtaken that of the SARS epidemic. There were more than 8,000 cases of SARS during its eight-month outbreak in 2003. In China alone the number of people who’ve contracted 2019-nCOV has risen to more than 17,000.

    The outbreak of the coronavirus was predicted thousands of years ago by the Jewish holy book Torah, claims rabbi and Bible scholar Matityahu Glazerson. The 82-year-old alleges he found a secret code in the book that warned against eating impure food. The initial cases of coronavirus occurred in people who reportedly worked or shopped at a food market in Wuhan that sold rats, snakes, bats, and live wolf puppies.

    In his theory, Matityahu Glazerson used the Bible or the Torah code, a set of secret messages encoded in the sacred text. Jewish culture has a tradition of interpreting and commenting on the Bible and Bible code is part of this tradition. Secret messages are extracted using equidistant letter sequence. You choose a starting point in the text (it can be any word, sentence or letter) then you skip a number and then you look for encoded messages by joining letters and forming words.

    In this case, Rabbi Glazerson found Hebrew letters - kuf, relish, van, nun and hey, which are said to spell out "corona". In the same section of the Torah, Rabbi Glazerson found letters that formed the word "virus". And the last encoded message he discovered read "the limb from the living", which the scholar says refers to the sin of eating the limbs of still-living animals. Glazerson, who has written 30 books on how to find encoded messages in the Bible, said: "You have it exactly in the section of the Torah that says things you should not eat".

    The concept of the Bible code became popular in the late 1990s when writer Michael Drosnin published his book about the practice. Throughout history many people have tried to find encoded messages in the holy text, including Isaac Newton.

    Wuhan, China, SARS coronavirus, coronavirus
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