“El, Creator of the Earth” on a Jerusalem Ostracon?

I’m conducting some research on the phrase ‘l qn ’rs (El, Creator of the Earth) as it appears in the Bible and in other inscriptions. I’m specifically dealing with the phrase as originally a reference to a procreative theogony. In 1971 N. Avigad discovered an ostracon in Jerusalem that contained the following broken phrase (from Patrick D. Miller’s 1980 article):

. . . yhw.’br[ ]hw

. . .n.mkyhu bn?nh . . .

. . . [  ]qn’rs

The lacuna before qn’rs has generally been restored with ‘l. The epithet may provide a little context for Gen 14:19, 22, where Jerusalem is associated with the worship of אל עליון. Some issues mitigate this understanding, though. In Hebrew we would expect the participle קנה to carry the final /h/ as it does in Genesis (see Pope, El in the Ugaritic Texts, 52–54). There also seems to be no space between the nun and the aleph, which has been interpreted by Stefan Paas as an indication it is a single name, specifically qn’rs,  related to the Hittite ku-né-er-ša. Some scholars have rejected the traditional restoration as a result of these concerns.

I prefer the traditional reading, and here’s why. This epithet originates, as far as we can tell, around the middle of the second millennium BCE. It is of Semitic origin, which is why the 14th century BCE Hittite Elkunirša myth misinterprets the appellative as a personal name. The Phoenician Karatepe inscription (8th century BCE) provides the classical form of the epithet (‘l qn ’rs), and if we understand the inscription from Jerusalem in a cultic or liturgical light, the preservation of the original form (without the /h/) is less anomalous. I find this explanation more likely than a reference to a Hittite deity. The association of the phrase with El (until the Common Era the epithet refers exclusively to El) and its proximity to the Yahwistic name Mikayahu in the inscription seems to me to support the restoration of ‘l in the missing portion.

Has anyone else dealt with question or have any criticisms or insights?


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