|The Damascus Document also |
known as CDC, the
Covenant of Damascus
© Cambridge University Library
The fragments from Qumran have been assigned the document references 4Q265-73, 5Q12, and 6Q15. Even before the Qumran discovery of the mid-20th century, this particular work had been known to scholars, through two manuscripts found during the late 19th century amongst the Cairo Genizah collection, in a room adjoining the Ben Ezra synagogue in Fustat. These fragments are housed at the Cambridge University Library with the classmarks T-S 10K6 and T-S 16.311 (other references are CDa and CDb, where "CD" stands for "Cairo Damascus"), and date from the tenth and twelfth centuries, respectively. In contrast to the fragments found at Qumran, the CD documents are largely complete, and therefore are vital for reconstructing the text.
The title of the document comes from numerous references within it to Damascus. The way this Damascus is treated in the document makes it possible that it was not a literal reference to Damascus in Syria, but to be understood either geographically for Babylon or Qumran itself. If symbolic, it is probably taking up the Biblical language found in Amos 5:27, "therefore I shall take you into exile beyond Damascus"; Damascus was part of Israel under King David, and the Damascus Document expresses an eschatalogical hope of the restoration of a Davidic monarchy.
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