A Defense of “Ha satan” as the devil in job

"Michael Heiser" is a name becoming well known by many for his publication of a work entitled "The Unseen Realm", in which he focuses the reader's attention on the "divine council" of God mentioned throughout scripture, and all of the implications that he asserts must be true when reading scripture through a more "supernatural" and "Near Eastern" lens [1]. Heiser's teachings have become somewhat prolific, with related videos receiving millions of views on YouTube, having been adopted by the Christian educational media production company, the Bible Project, for explanations of the setting of the book of Job (as detailed here), and receiving spoken approval from even classically ultra-conservative preacher Doug Wilson (as stated in this video of his here ).

Heiser's teachings are not without criticism though, as some assert that Heiser is merely peddling a new version of an old polytheistic heresy. An individual named Kenneth Berding has written an article in which he lays out several grounds for objection to Heiser's assertions, and far more substantially, an individual named Heath Henning, who runs a website truthwatchers.com, has published a six-part series of articles entitled "Michael Heiser's Gnostic Heresy" in which he detailedly deconstructs Heiser's teachings to show them as truly polytheistic and of a heretical nature. Most interestingly about Henning's publications, is that he has had direct correspondence with Heiser for clarifications regarding his work, and Heiser's responses have been quite telling.

Due to his interactions with Henning, Heiser has actually published an internet article addressing Henning's claims about his work. PLI encourages reading Heiser's response article, as well as Part 2 of Henning's series in which he responds to this article written by Heiser, to see just the sort of character which Heiser puts on display in contrast to Henning's handling of the topics; hopefully it will be clear to the reader that Heiser's short, dismissive, character-assassination style response speaks volumes about Heiser's character and lack of humility to serious allegations about his work, and that his response does nothing to actually alleviate the troubles which Henning calls out. Heiser can utter the words "I'm not a Gnostic" or "I'm not a polytheist" all that he wants, but if the substance of his material teaches such things, then he stands accountable to the substance.

Through examination of the material from both sources, PLI agrees that immense concern is warranted over Heiser's teachings because, as in the case of the Bible Project article on Job which is merely parroting teachings from Heiser regarding the divine council and the figure of "ha satan", assertions are made which, by implication, directly lead to the corruption of God's Holy character and perversion of the biblical concept of justice as defined by Him and His law; the teachings directly result in calling that which is truly evil, good, and making that which is good liable for evil. PLI details these realities in the downloadable publication below.
Update: Southern Seminary has a video published on YouTube discussing the question: "Who was Melchizedek?" Melchizedek is a king priest who is mentioned several times in the Bible, and in this video from Southern Seminary, the discussion of who Melchizedek is makes reference to information discovered in the 1920s from an archeology site which is now understood to be the ancient city of Ugarit. Discovered in this archeology site was what are now referred to as the "Ugaritic texts", which are a collection of stone tablet texts including poems, cult rituals, legal texts, and stories of Baal, the false God of the Canaanites[2]. At approx. 3 mins into the video from Southern Seminary, the speaker for Southern Seminary begins discussing this site of Ugarit, the texts found at the site, and how they detail the Canaanites idol worship of the false God Baal.

As detailed here in his own words, Heiser sees these texts as clarifying the context through which certain passages and stories of the Old Testament are to be properly understood; he goes so far to say that he would argue that these texts are as important as the Dead Sea Scrolls. In other words, Heiser asserts that we're reading the Old Testament wrong if we're not reading it through the lens which is clarified for us in these texts discovered at Ugarit. Here is where the error fo Heiser's work occurs; as mentioned by the Southern Seminary speaker in the cited video, the writings discovered at the site of Ugarit clearly detail and discuss Baal worship, and Heiser is asserting that we have been reading the Old Testament wrong because we haven't been understanding it through the lens of Baal worshippers!

As the Southern Seminary speakers discusses later in the video, the Canaanites went through a "devolution" in their religious practices, and forsook the worship of a one, true God, and began to worship many gods; also known as polytheism. This resulted in a highly sexualized religion, because Baal was worshipped in-part as a fertility God, resulting in "ritualistic prostitution in temples"[3] and other forms of sexual immorality. These are in fact exactly the people who scripture makes reference to as the people who are being "vomited" out of the land of Canaan as a result of their idolatrous practices and religious wickedness:

24 “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, 25 and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26 But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you 27 (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean), 28 lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. – Leviticus 18:24-28

Not only did the people of the land of Canaan devolve into this polytheistic Baal worship prior to the Israelites taking over the lands, but, at certain times, the Israelites also departed from worship of the one true God Yahweh and began to worship Baal as well:

And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth.” – Judges 3:7

So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.” – Numbers 25:3

What this all means is that the texts discovered at the archeology site of Ugarit, which Heiser asserts provide a clarified lens for us to view the Old Testament through, are texts from a civilization which was literally "vomited" out of the land they were in by the one, true God, Yahweh, and given into the hands of His people, because of their polytheism and abominable religious practices, many centered around the false god, Baal. Heiser is literally asserting that Christians have been miss-reading many passages of the Old Testament, because we haven't been reading them the way in which an idolatrous, sensually-religious people modified them to read. The language of the Ugaritic texts was a Semitic language, which shares a common root with Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic, but was its own unique flavor of a Semitic language. In asserting the authority of these Ugaritic texts for Biblical interpretation, Heiser is literally arguing that classical, or biblical, Hebrew should be interpreted through the language syntax of the Ugaritic texts. Hence why his arguments around "ha satan" in the book of Job rest upon a nuanced interpretive argument around the meaning and use of the article "ha" in front of "satan". The errors of this interpretative argument are not only revealed by contradictions that are created when the doctrinal conclusions of Heiser's interpretive lens are assessed against all of scripture, as discussed in the PLI publication cited previously, but are also clearly made manifest when considering the idolatrous substance of the texts which Heiser is using to argue for his position of interpretation, as exposed by discussion in the Southern Seminary video and Heath Henning's "TruthWatchers" series.

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