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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
Thomas Knapp
Florida’s Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
Jordan Flaherty
Best Films of 2016: Black Excellence Versus White Mediocrity
Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Steve Horn
What Do a Louisiana Pipeline Explosion and Dakota Access Pipeline Have in Common? Phillips 66
Brian Saady
Why Corporations are Too Big to Jail in the Drug War
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Peaceful Protest to Armed Uprising
Luke Meyer
The Case of Tony: Inside a Lifer Hearing
Binoy Kampmark
Adolf, The Donald and History
Robert Koehler
The Great American Awakening
Murray Dobbin
Canadians at Odds With Their Government on Israel
Fariborz Saremi
A Whole New World?
Joyce Nelson
Japan’s Abe, Trump & Illegal Leaks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump 1, Tillerson 0
Yves Engler
Is This Hate Speech?
Dan Bacher
Trump Administration Exempts Three CA Oil Fields From Water Protection Rule at Jerry Brown’s Request
Richard Klin
Solid Gold
Melissa Garriga
Anti-Abortion and Anti-Fascist Movements: More in Common Than Meets the Eye
Thomas Knapp
The Absurd Consequences of a “Right to Privacy”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail