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Are there any known uses of cryptography (or similar) in Jewish History?

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A certain Aramean (gentile) who was friendly with the famous sage R’ Yehuda ben Beseira used to travel to Jerusalem and partake in the Pesach offering (contrary to the Torah’s prohibition). He used to brag to R’ Yehuda ben Beseira: The Torah says, “No foreigner may eat from it… No uncircumcised man may eat from it… (12:43,48)” yet I am consistently given the best portions! R’ Yehuda ben Beseira asked him: “Have they ever given you the sheep’s tail? Now that is truly the best portion—all else is nothing in comparison. Next time you go up, tell them to give you to eat from the sheep’s tail!” –  Gershon Gold Mar 23 '11 at 0:23
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The next time he came, he told them, “Please give me the sheep’s tail.” “The sheep’s tail? It’s not eaten—it is burned on the Altar,” they told him. “Who told you to ask for the sheep’s tail?” “The great sage, ben Beseira!” “R’ Yehuda ben Beseira told you to ask for the sheep’s tail?” They were shocked. They launched an investigation, and it was discovered that he was a gentile who is forbidden to partake in the Pesach. They sent R’ Yehuda a message: “Peace to you, R’ Yehuda ben Beseira. You live in Netzivin (R’ Yehuda ben Beseira’s home-town), yet your net spreads until Yerushalayim!” –  Gershon Gold Mar 23 '11 at 0:23
    
@Gershon why not put it as an answer? –  yydl Mar 23 '11 at 0:35
    
It is not exactly cryptography. –  Gershon Gold Mar 23 '11 at 2:09
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Maybe that's an example of steganography - "the art and science of writing hidden messages in such a way that no one, apart from the sender and intended recipient, suspects the existence of the message" (Wikipedia). –  Alex Mar 23 '11 at 14:59

5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

On the back of a mezuzah there are written the letters כוזו במוכסז כוזו, which is a Caesar cipher (with a shift of 1) for the names of Hashem in the first verse of Shema.

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The nation known as ששך in Yirmiyahu 25:26 is commonly (see p. 207) understood to be a cipher [or pseudo-cipher] for the nation בבל, using א"ת ב"ש as the method of encoding.

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Rashbam shemos 3:15 uses א"ת ב"ש

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There are a plethora of laws encrypted in the Torah. The cipher is the 13 (or 7 or 32) middos of Derash.

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It says "Histakel B'Oraisa U'Boro Alma". Hashem looked in the Torah and created the world. The entire Torah has many hidden codes inside which over the many generations some have been revealed to us.

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