FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Day of Reckoning

by DIANE CHRISTIAN

 

Our leader promises ‘a day of reckoning’ for Saddam’s regime—by which he means not just the shootout at the OK Corral but a religious settling of accounts.

The ancient Egyptians reckoned judgment with a scale. Your heart in a canopic jar was weighed against a feather representing Maat—the goddess of justice and righteousness. Maat’s consort Thoth, god of wisdom, recorded the verdict, and if you did not weigh righteously you got gobbled by Amet the crocodile god lying below the scales who was eager to eat the unworthy and deprive them of life. For well over four thousand years that image of scales and ultimate just reckoning has been alive in Egyptian culture. Tourists today buy ‘the day of reckoning’ on plaster plaques and painted papyrus. Scales of reckoning also appear on Greek vases where Zeus weighs the fate of warriors and on Christian churches where Michael, god’s warrior, weighs good and evil souls in judgment. Christians use both scales and the written record. In Michelangelo’s Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel there are two books—a big one of the damned and a smaller one of the saved.

The President’s day of reckoning has a direct biblical echo in the book of Daniel which is set in 6th century b.c Babylon in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, whom Saddam openly emulates. Nebuchadnezzar in the Hebrew view is a vicious tyrant whom god humbles—making him crawl on all fours with his hair like a goat’s and his fingernails like an eagle’s talons.
The prophet Daniel interprets the king’s dreams which foretell his inevitable downfall. His great image, with head of gold, breast of silver, belly of brass, will be struck in its iron and clay feet by a divine stone (usually read as Israel) and his empire will topple. The great tree of his kingdom which fills the heavens will be cut down and left a stump. Nebuchadnezzar’s son , Belshazzar, is also warned and punished. At Belshazzar’s feast he drinks wine out of the gold and silver vessels his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem. A mysterious hand appears and writes on the wall ‘Mene mene tekel u-pharsin’. Daniel interprets: ‘God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; you have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.’ Belshazzar is slain that very night.

Babylon is shocked and awed by God in both biblical apocalypses—Hebrew Daniel and Christian Revelation (Apocalypse). The final reckoning is a cleansing bloody conflict which separates good and evil nations. Mighty Babylon’s doom in the Christian Apocalypse will sound in a single hour and Jerusalem will triumph as the heavenly rich city with the tree and water of life.
The President of the most powerful nation on earth feels righteous attacking Baghdad. He intends to transform Babylon into liberated Christian Jerusalem. He’s in charge of a resonant day of reckoning, confident that evil will be removed by good.

Is he God or Amet or another tyrant?

There will be more than one day of reckoning.

DIANE CHRISTIAN is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at University at Buffalo. She can be reached at: engdc@acsu.buffalo.edu

Yesterday’s Features

Pablo Mukherjee
Watch Their Lips

David Krieger
Shock But Not Awe

Linda Heard
Winning Hearts and Minds Bush–Style

Imad Jadaa
The Beautiful Face of America

Adam Engel
Buckets of Blood

Patrick Cockburn
Kurds Unimpressed

David Lindorff
POWs, Torture and Hypocrisy

Robert Fisk
The Coup That Didn’t Happen

April Hurley, MD
A Doctor’s Outrage in Baghdad

Gloria Bergen
Chretien’s Shame

Reema Abu Hamdieh
The Smell of Death Surrounds Me

Website of the War
Iraq Body Count

Keep CounterPunch Alive:
Make a Tax–Deductible Donation Today Online!

home / subscribe / about us / books / archives / search / links /

DIANE CHRISTIAN is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at University at Buffalo and author of the new book Blood Sacrifice. She can be reached at: engdc@acsu.buffalo.edu

More articles by:
July 27, 2016
Richard Moser
The Party’s Over
M. G. Piety
Smoke and Mirrors in Philadelphia
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Humiliation Games: Notes on the Democratic Convention
Arun Gupta
Bernie Sanders’ Political Revolution Splinters Apart
John Eskow
The Loneliness of the American Leftist
Guillermo R. Gil
A Metaphoric Short Circuit: On Michelle Obama’s Speech at the DNC
Norman Pollack
Sanders, Our Tony Blair: A Defamation of Socialism
Claire Rater, Carol Spiegel and Jim Goodman
Consumers Can Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics on Factory Farms
Guy D. Nave
Make America Great Again?
Sam Husseini
Why Sarah Silverman is a Comedienne
Dave Lindorff
No Crooked Sociopaths in the White House
Dan Bacher
The Hired Gun: Jerry Brown Snags Bruce Babbitt as New Point Man For Delta Tunnels
Peter Lee
Trumputin! And the DNC Leak(s)
David Macaray
Interns Are Exploited and Discriminated Against
Brett Warnke
Storm Clouds Over Philly
Ann Garrison
Rwanda, the Clinton Dynasty, and the Case of Dr. Léopold Munyakazi
Chris Zinda
Snakes of Deseret
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Russell Mokhiber
The Rabble Rise Together Against Bernie, Barney, Elizabeth and Hillary
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
Binoy Kampmark
Undermining Bernie Sanders: the DNC Campaign, WikiLeaks and Russia
Arun Gupta
Trickledown Revenge: the Racial Politics of Donald Trump
Sen. Bernard Sanders
What This Election is About: Speech to DNC Convention
David Swanson
DNC Now Less Popular Than Atheism
Linn Washington Jr.
‘Clintonville’ Reflects True Horror of Poverty in US
Deepak Tripathi
Britain in the Doldrums After the Brexit Vote
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Threats: Arbitrary Lines on Political Maps
Robert J. Gould
Proactive Philanthropy: Don’t Wait, Reach Out!
Victor Grossman
Horror and Sorrow in Germany
Nyla Ali Khan
Regionalism, Ethnicity, and Trifurcation: All in the Name of National Integration
Andrew Feinberg
The Good TPP
400 US Academics
Letter to US Government Officials Concerning Recent Events in Turkey
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Russell Mokhiber
Bernie Delegates Take on Bernie Sanders
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Andy Thayer
Letter to a Bernie Activist
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail