A Day of Reckoning



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

Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000
John Feffer
Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
Paul Craig Roberts
The Impulsiveness of US Power
Ron Jacobs
The Murderer as American Hero
Alex Nunns
“A Movement Looking for a Home”: the Meaning of Jeremy Corbyn
Philippe Marlière
Class Struggle at Air France
Binoy Kampmark
Waiting in Vain for Moderation: Syria, Russia and Washington’s Problem
Paul Edwards
Empire of Disaster
Xanthe Hall
Nuclear Madness: NATO’s WMD ‘Sharing’ Must End
Margaret Knapke
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages
Uri Avnery
Abbas: the Leader Without Glory
Halima Hatimy
#BlackLivesMatter: Black Liberation or Black Liberal Distraction?
Michael Brenner
Kissinger Revisited
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Halyna Mokrushyna
On Ukraine’s ‘Incorrect’ Past
Jason Cone
Even Wars Have Rules: a Fact Sheet on the Bombing of Kunduz Hospital
Walter Brasch
Mass Murders are Good for Business
William Hadfield
Sophistry Rising: the Refugee Debate in Germany
Christopher Brauchli
Why the NRA Profits From Mass Shootings
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
Pete Dolack
There is Still Time to Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Marc Norton
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Andre Vltchek
Stop Millions of Western Immigrants!
David Rosen
If Donald Dump Was President
Dave Lindorff
America’s Latest War Crime
Ann Garrison
Sankarist Spirit Resurges in Burkina Faso
Franklin Lamb
Official Investigation Needed After Afghan Hospital Bombing
Linn Washington Jr.
Wrongs In Wine-Land
Ronald Bleier
Am I Drinking Enough Water? Sneezing’s A Clue
Charles R. Larson
Prelude to the Spanish Civil War: Eduard Mendoza’s “An Englishman in Madrid”
David Yearsley
Papal Pop and Circumstance
October 08, 2015
Michael Horton
Why is the US Aiding and Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Genocidal War in Yemen?