Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin

It's Ash Wednesday, exactly six months later, and a good time to bring this post back to the top.

[For those who don't recognize "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin", the words are the storied "writing on the wall" that appear during Belshazzar's Feast in the book of Daniel, chapter 5. In the story, young, arrogant and dissolute King Belshazzar has succeeded to his father Nebuchadnezzar's rule over Babylonia (now, incidentally, known as Iraq). Heedless of the concerns of his ordinary subjects, Belshazzar throws a big self-adulatory private party for himself and his most favored cronies, and serves food and wine from the chalices and other treasures plundered from the Jerusalem Temple, at which point the cryptic writing suddenly appears on the palace wall. Belshazzar's inside circle of sycophantic advisors is stumped and sends for Nebuchadnezzar's wise old Hebrew counselor Daniel, who interprets the words: "MENE (meining "measure") -- your reign is measured and brought to an end; TEKEL (meaning "shekel" or "weigh") -- you are weighed in the scales and found wanting; PARSIN (meaning both "divide" and "Persian") -- your kingdom will be divided between the Medes and the Persians."]


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