The Laws of the Damascus Document - Between Bible and
Joseph M. Baumgarten
Baltimore Hebrew College
In this Jubilee year, when there have been multiple events marking fifty
years since the discovery of the DSS , the initiative of the Orion Center
serves as a reminder that it is nearly a centennial since Solomon Schechter
prepared his publication of the central foundational document of the DSS
community, The Zadokite Fragments. It is true that for half a century the
antiquity of the work in these Genizah manuscripts was still the subject
of scholarly debate, but this fact only enhances the good judgment and
courage of the editor, who held to his conviction that these were copies
of a sectarian text stemming from the period of the Second Temple. Today
this judgment is almost universally accepted, although with regard to the
code of laws there has until recently been some reluctance among biblical
scholare to recognise it as an integral part of what is now commonly called
the Damascus Document. With the publication of the Cave 4 fragments this
can be expected to change.
I concluded the introduction to the Cave 4 D fragments with a paragraph
entitled 'The Relevance of Rabbinic Sources'. In it I took issue with those
scholars who consider the late editing of the rabbinic texts as a sufficient
justification for ignoring them in their portrayal of Second Temple religious
history. Here at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem it hardly seems necessary
to belabor this point. Since the publication of Megillat Ha-Miqdas} and
Miqsat Ma'ase Ha-Torah it is well known that Qumran religious law included
rulings which the Mishnah relates to the µyqwdx (whatever sectarian
entities this name might designate) in their debates with the µyçwrp.
Moreover, the polemics in Qumran writings against the Pharisees (twqlj
yçrwd), have as their target practices considered normative in rabbinic
sources. The Mishnah, as historians in Israel have recognised, is indispensable
for understanding what the Qumran legists were teaching and with whom they
were contending. Among the new laws of the Damascus Document there are
further illustrations of rulings directed against practices sanctioned
in tannaitic sources.
In the present paper I should like to to offer a few observations about
the distinctive Qumarn approach to the laws of Shabbat and to appraise
some nomenclature common to Qumran and early rabbinic halakha. Before I
do so, however, it behooves me to justify the intentionally balanced description
of this paper, 'between Bible and Mishnah'. I propose to do so by essaying
to identify the biblical source of one of the more intriguing supplements
to the Damascus Document extant only in 4Q270, the so-called Catalogue
The Catalogue of Transgressors
The list of about fourteen transgressors, with the repeated formula
rça wa and a verb in the imperfect, is not fully extant and its
placement before the corpus of laws is not certain. At the end of the list
the transgressors were collectively denounced for provoking divine wrath.
In DJD XVIII I tentatively remarked that the genre of the list may be compared
with the list of curses (rwra) directed against various sinners in Deuteronomy
27. However, the curse formula, reflected in 1QS II 11, is not found in
the D catalogue, and the nature of the transgressions is entirely different.
More recently I considered the hypothesis that the rça wa formula
with the imperfect verb may derive from the rça çya formulation
with the imperfect which is used repeatedly to describe profanations of
holiness in Leviticus 17-22. Closer examination of the contents of the
Catalogue of Transgressors does indeed indicate a marked dependence upon
sins listed in this biblical pericope, although a number of the transgressions
in the D catalogue are clearly of a sectarian nature. The following tabulation
may serve to provide an overview of the dependence::
4Q270 2 i-ii Lev 17-22
1. µynw[dybw bwab çwrdy wa µyry?[ç 17:7 (µyry[ç);19:31,
20:6,27 (bwa, ynw[dy)
2. µçh ta lljy rça wa 20:3, 21:6, 22:2, 22:15
3. hyba¿ tybb hylwtb?b [r µç 21:14 (hylwtbb hça)
4. hm[ rja bkçy ?rça hnmla
5. µwyb wtça la br?qy wa
6. ? µyçdwqh ta¿ µyrhl ajm?y rça 22:1-16
µyçdq offered (wmyry) to priests
7. wçdwq jwr ta amfl µtwmçb ? ¿
8. ha¿mf bwz wa t[rx [gnb [gwny wa 22:4 (bz wa [wrx awhw)
9. wm[ t¿a llqy wa µyawgl wm[ zr ta hlgy rça 19:16
ûym[b lykr ûlt al
10. çdqh jwr yjyçm l[ hrs ?rbdy
11. h¿rb[ hyjw hmhb fjçy wa 22:28 dja µwyb wfjçt
al wnb taw wta
12. µd Åyqm hrh hça ?µ[ bkçy rça
13. wyja¿ tb l?a brqy wa
14. hça ybkçm ?rkz µ[ bkçy wa 18:22 hça
ybkçm bkçt al rkz taw
2. The fact that participants in the Moloch cult are said to profane
the divine name (20:3) raises the possibility that this pagan abomination
was mentioned in the fragmentary context, but this cannot be proven. 3-4.
Lev 21:14 refers to the restricted marriages sanctioned for the high priest.
The sinner alluded to here is apparently any layman who marries a maiden
or widow of ill repute; cf. 4Q271 3 12 12-13. 5. The identification of
the day on which marital relations were banned is missing. Jub. 50:8 suggests
that it may have been the Sabbath. 6. The priestly emoluments listed here
include a. the fruits of trees in the fourth year after their planting
b. the tithe of cattle c. the redemption of the first-born of unclean animals
and of humans d. the first shearing of sheep e. the assessment for the
redemption of persons f. a guilt restitution which cannot be returned to
its righful owner. The assignment to the priests of a.,b., e. and f. follows
sectarian opinion (MMT B 62-64,11QT LX, CD IX 13-14). Terumah, the sacred
portion of the harvest offered exclusively to the priests (Num 18) is not
listed here. The requirement of ritual purity for its consumption is the
major subject of Lev 22. 7. The extant text does not specify whose names,
those of angels or perhaps those of communal authorities, are abused by
the offender. 8. Lev 20:4-7 lists scale disease and gonorrhea among defilements
which disqualify a priest from eating sacred food. The mention of these
physical afflictions in this catalogue of transgressors may perhaps reflect
the view that they were symptomatic of sin. 9. "One who reveals a
secret of his people to the gentiles, or curses [his people]". 11QTemple
LXIV likewise describes two kinds of treason : a. informing against one's
people, wm[b lykr çya hyhy yk b. cursing one's people by one who
goes over to the side of the gentiles, wm[ ta llqyw µyawgh ûwt la
jrbyw. The terminolgy used there for informing is clearly that of Lev 19:16,
ûym[b lykr ûlt al, which was understood to refer to national betrayal rather
than malicious gossip. The phraseology of our text is markedly close to
that found in the En Gedi inscription, hymm[l htrqd hzr ylgd öm. 11-12.
The ban on slaughtering pregnant animals in 11QTemple LII 5-7 is juxtaposed
with the biblical prohibition to kill the parent and young of oxen and
sheep the same day (Lev 22:28). Qumran law regarded the fetus as an independent
creature.1 It is possible that the following law forbidding intercourse
during pregnancy may also involve the concern about harm to the fetus.
13-14. The laws of incest in Lev 20 are consistently formulated with the
rça çya pattern, from which the rça wa formula of
our text presumably derives. However, marriage with one's niece was not
biblically prohibited; it was exegetically derived from the ban on marrying
one's aunt (CD V 8-11).
The foregoing survey of biblical sources for the Catalogue of Transgressors
shows that it was primarily based on the hçwdq laws found in Lev
17-22. To these were appended some offenses against sectarian 'halakha',
which may also have been deemed to be profanations of holiness. The connection
with the Leviticus pericope is further supported by the conclusion which
follows the enumeration of sinners :
? t¿a yrbw[ vac ? ¿ 17 ? ¿ Åó?qb wpa öwr¿jâb
ryb[hl la qqj µb 18
In the editio princeps I followed the suggestion that 6Q15 was a parallel
to this text. Hence, I adopted the reading found there, ry[bhl 'to kindle'
as preferable to ryb[hl with öwrj 'wrath':
17. [ ] vac Those who transgress [ ] 18. Against them God has ordained,
to cause his w[rath] to be kindled during the peri[od of iniquity ]
I now believe that the original reading ryb[hl should not be modified.
Lev 18:24 admonishes Israelites not to defile themselves by imitating the
sexual practices of Canaan, "for by all these the nations I am casting
out before you have defiled themselves." The transgressors of moral
limits, designated by the word yrbw[ in line 17, are subject to a divine
curse, as indicated in the expulsion ritual at the end of the Damascus
Document : htwra µhyrbw[ ta rça wnl htlbgh twlwbgw 'You have
set limits for us and cursed those who transgress them' (4Q266 11 12-13).
Non-Israelite, too, were cursed when they transgressed these moral limits,
µhyrbw[ ta htwra hta 11 14, as demonstrated by the fate of the nations
who were 'vomited out' by the land (Lev 19:25-28). It is to this law of
moral retribution that line 18 most likely alludes : wpa öwr¿jâb
ryb[hl la qqj µb 'Them did God ordain to remove through the wrath
of his anger', with an apparent word play between yrbw[ and ryb[hl.
Qumran Law and the Mishnah
Having given due recognition to the fundamental biblical roots of Qumran
law, we may now turn our attention to those aspects which link it with
early rabbinic halakha. These links were highlighted in the masterful study
of Louis Ginzberg which, based only on the Damascus Document and lacking
the wealth of other Qumran writings at our disposal, identified the unbekannte
judische Sekte as Pharisaic. Although this conclusion is no longer tenable,
there is great heuristic value in reevaluating the considerations which
led to it.
Laws of Shabbat
The laws of Shabbat provide some of the closest approaches between Qumran
exegesis and the Oral Law of the Rabbis. Lawrence Schiffman's dissertation
contains a detailed discussion of these laws. Here we wish only to make
some observations based on Cave 4 halakhic fragments, which will hopefully
soon be published.2
The biblical injunction, y[ybçh µwyb wmqmm çya axy
la "Let no man go out of his place on the seventh day" (Exod
16:29) was rendered in 4Q251 1 4 tbçh lk wmwqmm çya axwy
la "Let no man bring forth from his place (during) the entire Sabbath".
axwy is likewise employed in the rules, formulated on the basis of Exod
16:29, which prohibit carrying in and out on the Sabbath (CD XI 7 and 4Q265
6 4) . Thus, this biblical passage served at Qumran, much as it did in
talmudic halakha (b. 'Erub 17b, 51a) and in Targum ps.Jon. to Exod 16:29,
both as a source for the limit on walking and the prohibition of carrying
in and out of dwellings.
Talmudic halakha, however, analyzed the act of carrying into two elements
: a. the raising (hryq[) of an object from its place and b. its placement
(hjnh) in another locus. Only a person who performed both elements was
culpable (m. Shab, 1.1). The severe formulation in Jub 50:8 shows no awareness
of such conceptualization. "And whoever lifts up anything that he
will carry to take out of his tent or from his house, let him die."
This implies that the very displacement of an object with the intent to
carry it out constitutes a desecration.3 Such a view is akin to the practice
cited by Josephus as an illustration of Essene stringency with regard to
the Sabbath : "Not only do they prepare their food on the day before,
to avoid kindling a fire on that one [the Sabbath], but they do not venture
to remove (metakinhsai) any vessel" (J.W. 2.147). Moving a vessel,
not prepared for the Sabbath, even without carrying it outside, would for
the Essenes constitute a violation of Exod 16:5, which required that the
manna for the Sabbath be prepared (wnykhw) on the sixth day.
hxqwm and çpn jwqp
Talmudic sources preserve a theory which deemed objects not 'prepared'
for the Sabbath to be biblically restricted for use (hxqwm). The prevailing
talmudic view, however, attributed the hxqwm restrictions to rabbinic enactments
which underwent an evolution from strict application to virtually all vessels
to the later circumscribed ban of only specific implements.4
Qumran law retains the ancient stringency in accordance with which any
implement not designated for the Sabbath use could not be employed, even
to save a human life. Thus, certain Jews who fled to the wilderness in
the days of Mattathias did not defend themselves when attacked on the Sabbath.
They did not hurl any stone against their attackers nor block up their
hiding places (1 Mac 2:36). The handling of rocks or soil was clearly forbidden
on the Sabbath (cf. CD XI 10-11), and no allowance was made for the peril
to life (çpn jwqp). "Any human being who falls into a place
of water ... let no man bring him up with a ladder, a rope, or an implement"
(CD XI 16-17).5 4Q265 6 confirms the ban on using an implement (ylk), but
permits one to cast a garment (dgb) to the drowning man; the latter, was
permissible because, as an article of attire it was prepared for use on
the Sabbath.6 It is interesting that this ruling is followed by a reference
to a situation involving an army (abx), which unfortunately is incomplete.
We also lack the context of the allusion to war on the Sabbath in 4Q264
1 ii 8 wm[ µjlhl.7
twbç and Priestly Activities
Of the two loci around the levitical cities in Numbers 35, the larger
one, two thousand cubits, was fixed for the perambulation of shepherds,
as in CD XI 5-6. Interestingly, 4Q264a apparently applies the same Sabbath
limit to priests grazing sacrificial animals. Talmudic halakha operated
with the principle that rabbinic Sabbath limitations (twbç) did
not apply to the Temple. The question whether this principle could also
be extended to allow the bringing of paschal offerings from beyond the
Sabbath limit and other ancillary tasks performed outside the sanctuary
was debated by the Tannaim (m. Pes. 6,1; b. 'Erub. 103a). CD XI 17-18 restricts
Sabbath offerings to those designated for that day, and the coincidence
of the Passover with Sabbath was, moreover, excluded by the structure of
the Qumran calendar. However, the grazing of sacrificial animals on the
Sabbath was permitted, provided the priestly shepherds kept within the
two thousand cubit locus.
4Q265 7 3 forbids the priests to sprinkle the purification water for
cleansing the impure on the Sabbath. This restriction on lustrations is
likewise found in 4Q274 2 i and has its counterpart in rabbinic halakha.
Moreover, the reading hdn aym in a fragmentary passage of 4Q251 1 may also
pertain to the problem occasioned by the coincidence of the third or seventh
day after defilement with the Sabbath..The extant text mentions the sixth
day (Friday) as the appropriate day for preparatory bodily cleansing.
M. Hagigah 1,8 characterizes the laws of Shabbat as based on little
scripture and much oral halakha, hr[çb öywlth µyrrhk 'like
mountains suspended by a hair'. It is interesting that Qumran exegetes,
who as far as we know had no concept of an authoritative Oral Law, nevertheless
attached the observance of precautionary Sabbath restrictions to the scriptural
command, wçdql tbçh µwy ta rwmç (CD X 16-17).
This was, according to our restoration of the text of 4Q274 2 i the passage
cited in support of the restriction on sprinkling water for purification
on the Sabbath, just as it served in CD X 16-17 as the basis for requiring
the cessation of work on Friday well before sunset. Thus, Qumran law in
effect carried out one of the principles attributed to the Men of the Great
Assembly, hrwtl gys wç[w 'And build a fence about the Torah' (m.
Abot 1,1). I am therefore inclined to doubt that the sobriquet Åyjh ynwb
which stems from Ezek 13:10 and was applied in the Damascus Document to
some opponents of the sect (CD IV 19, VIII 12) was particularly directed
at the proto-rabbinic 'fences' which served to protect the Law. 8
The Topical Nomenclature of Laws
The laws of Shabbat are set forth in the Damascus Document under the
rubric tbçh l[ (X 14). This is one of several such rubrics employed
to introduce topical groupings of laws : µymb rhfh l[ 'concerning
one who purifies himself in water' (X 10), h[wbçh l[ 'concerning
oaths' (IX 8), twbdnh fpçm l[ 'concerning the law of donations'
(XVI 13).9 Note also the nomenclature for the class of prohibited sexual
unions twyr[h fpçm (V 9), which is paralleled by the topical heading
twyr[h l[ in 4Q251 12 1. Here we have the first post-biblical evidence
for the identification of classes of laws by subject categories.
It is noteworthy that the afore-mentioned Mishnah Hagigah 1,8, which
characterizes the laws of Shabbat as lacking scriptural support, lists
twyr[w twamfhw twrhfh among categories of laws which by contrast have abundant
scriptural support. twamfhw twrhfh, counted as one in the Tosephta, corresponds
to the rubric rhfh l[ concerning purification from impurity. twyr[, the
laws of prohibited marriages, are here designated in plural form just as
at Qumran. The Tosephta has supplements to the mishnaic list of halakhot
with good scriptural support, among which there appear öykr[h and twçdqhh.
The former also appears at Qumran in plural form in the designation µykr[h
¼sk 'valuation money' (4Q159), while twçdqhh corresponds
in content to the rules listed in the Damascus Document under the rubric
of twbdnh (XVI 13), which employ the verb çdq for sanctified donations.
In his definitive study of early strata of tannaitic literature Yaakov
Epstein demonstrated that Mishnah Hagigah 1,8, which describes the above-mentioned
categories of halakhot, stems at the latest from the Herodian period. This
is shown by the fact that Abba Yose b. Hanan, a contemporary of the late
Temple period, already refers to the enumeration of the laws in the Mishnah
as 'major bodies of halakha' (t.Hag. 1,9). Epstein's conclusion is, I believe,
in harmony with the similarities in the topical terminology between Qumran
and the Mishnah which we have noted. The rudimentary grouping of laws under
subject headings at Qumran, although manifested here in a non-Pharisaic
context, tends also to add cogency to Epsteins theory concerning the early
formation of the nuclei of the tractates of the Mishnah.
Our identification of Leviticus 17-22 as the source of the Catalogue
of transgressors can be taken as an illustration of the pentateuchal roots
of Qumran law. As CD XVI 2 affirms, 'in it (the law of Moses) everything
is specified (qdqwdm)'. However, this apparently limiting principle has
to be appraised in the light of such pentateuchal supplements as the Book
of Jubilees in which chronological things are qdqwdm (CD XVI 3) and the
Temple Scroll which contains multiple pentateuchal elaborations. We have
further to reckon with the genre of reworked Pentateuch found at Qumran
in which, for example, the feasts of oil and wood were inserted into the
sequence of festivals of Leviticus 23. Thus, the scriptural basis of Qumran
law, which unlike talmudic halakha also included the Prophets, was to begin
with less rigidly defined. Witness the sporadic use of the citation formula,
rma rça, for things not found anywhere in Scripture, but in the
sectarian interpretation thereof.10
One significant Qumran development in the direction of tannaitic methodology
was the rudimentary collection of rules under subject rubrics introduced
with the preposition l[. Another is the use of nomenclature to identify
various areas of halakha similar to that found in the earliest strata of
The laws of Shabbat in the Damascus Document, much like those in Jubilees
offer parallels to rules which in talmudic halakha would be classified
as twbç, or functionally as fences about the Torah. Yet, they are
not distinguished from biblical prohibitions, nor treated with greater
leniency, even when life may be threatened. Moreover, we do not yet find
in the Qumran Shabbat laws the kind of conceptual analysis and generalized
principles which are familiar from the Mishnah. The foregoing methodological
observations seem by and large to be compatible with the chronological
placement of the Qumran literature between Bible and Mishnah.
1 J. Baumgarten, "A Fragment on Fetal Life and Pregnancy in 4Q270",
Pomegranates and Golden Bells : Studies in Honor of Jacob Milgrom, ed.
D.P. Wright, D.N. Freedman, and A. Hurvitz, (Winona Lake : Eisenbrauns,
2 After completing the following survey of the 4Q Sabbath fragments,
I found that L. Doering has independently arrived at a number of similar
results in his study, "New Aspects of Qumran Sabbath Law from Cave
4 Fragments", Legal Texts and Legal Issues, etc.
3 The theory that the restriction on the moving (lwflf) of objects was
derivative from the prohibition to carry them out (haxwh) is found in b.
Shab. 124b, as noted by Rabad in his stricture on Rambam, Yad, Laws of
Shabbat 24.12. Rambam viewed the lwflf restrictions as independent rabbinic
enactments to distinguish the Sabbath from the workaday routines of the
4 Cf. b. Pes. 47b and Bes> a 2b with the evolutionary relaxation
of hxqwm restrictions depicted in t. Shab. 14.1
5 The restriction on saving human life is specific and applies strictly
to the use of utensils which may not be handled on the Sabbath; cf. L.H.
Schiffman, The Halakha at Qumran, p.126 and L. Doering's dissent in the
above-mentioned paper.. In normative rabbinic halakha, the primacy of çpn
jwqp would override all restrictions.
6 4Q265 6 4 has the prohibition ?l¿kamw ylk wlham ç?ya
ax¿wâyâ la "Let no man bring forth from his tent a vessel and
food". It is possible that the vessel intended here was a food vessesl,
taking ?l¿kamw ylk as hendiadys; otherwise its handling even within
the tent would be restricted.
7 For a historical study of the halakha concerning war on the Sabbath,
see M.D. Herr,"The Problem of the Laws of War on the Sabbath in the
Second Temple and Mishnaic Periods" (Hebrew), Tarbiz 30 (1961) 242-256,
8 Cf. L. Schiffman, Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls, 250.
9 We do not include instance where the l[ formulation introduces single
laws , such as hçah t[wbç l[ (CD XVI 10) and the repeated
use of this formula for particular legal assertions in MMT.
10 See Baumgarten, "A 'Scriptural' Citation."
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