In 1902, a person identified only as "a learned correspondent in West Hackney" brought to the attention of the world a curious fact about Psalm 46 of the King James Version of the Bible. The name "Shakespeare" seems to be coded into it.
As explained in a brief notice that ran in The Publishers' Circular (Jan 11, 1902)
DID SHAKESPEAR WRITE THE BOOK OF PSALMS?
'S.L.H.,' in the column of the Morning Leader headed 'Sub Rosa,' says that the following suggestion reaches him 'from a learned correspondent in West Hackney':—
'In the name Shakespear there are four vowels and six consonants..... If you write down the figure 4 and then follow it by the figure 6, you get 46.
Very well — turn to Psalm 46 and you will find that in it the 46th word from the beginning is "shake," while the 46th word from the end is "spear."
This fact, or rather these facts, may be held to prove, according to my correspondent, that the Psalms were written by Shakespear and that this is really the correct way of spelling his name.
I know that controversialists are a fierce tribe and they stick at each other as well as nothing, and so they will try to make out that the word "spear" is the 47th and not the 46 word from the end of the 46th Psalm; but this can only be done by counting "Selah," and if you think I am going to throw over a valuable literary discovery for the sake of an odd "Selah" you are mistaken.'
In the original 1611 King James Bible
, the word spear was actually spelled "speare," which contradicts the guy's point about the 4 consonants and spelling of Shakespeare's name.
However, his larger point remains true — that in Psalm 46, the word "shake" is 46 words from the beginning, and "speare" is 46 words from the end.
One theory is that this suggests that Shakespeare worked on the King James translation, and devised this way to leave his calling card. Kind of like a "Shakespeare was here" sign. Or maybe one of the translators was a fan of his.
Or perhaps it means absolutely nothing, and is just a weird coincidence. No one knows.
One more weird coincidence: Shakespeare was 46 in 1610, which is about when the translation was being completed.
The Gaffney Ledger - Jan 4, 1980
note: Shakespeare was 46 in 1610, not 1605.
Arizona Republic - May 15, 1976