Gematria is a type of numerological study that may be defined as one of more systems for calculating the numerical equivalence of letters, words, and phrases in a particular Hebrew text. These systems are used for the purpose of gaining insight into interrelating concepts and for finding correspondences between words and concepts. Although not identical, gematria is also in the same orbit as the so-called “Bible Codes” and “Equi-distant Letter Sequences” (ELS) that have become fashionable recently.
Within the earliest Jewish traditions, groups of Jewish scholars counted the number of times each letter appeared in the Scriptures (as well as the number of words, verses, paragraphs, etc.). These textual specialists were called Soferim (counters). The Soferim ensured that every Torah scroll (and the other books of the Tanakh) were identical, noting any unusual words and spellings and replicating them exactly through their scribal arts. Many Jews believe that Ezra the Scribe instituted many of the practices of the Soferim.
According to most practitioners, there are several methods used to calculate the numerical value for individual words and phrases. When converted to a number, words/phrases can then be compared to other words/phrases and similarities drawn.