A Comparison of the “Penal Code” in the Damascus Document and in the Serekh ha-Yaḥad from a Literary Perspective

In: Dead Sea Discoveries


In contrast to the so-called Penal Code in 1QS, the Penal Code in the Damascus Document (D) is very fragmentary. Only a few sentences at its beginning are attested. Furthermore, the Penal Code of 4Q265 is more like the Penal Code in 1QS than the version D (CD and 4QD frags). Nevertheless, all three literary works were written in a complex interdependency. The goal of this article is to focus on a comparison between the passages in 1QS and D and present a detailed structural analyses of each version, leading to a synthesis with the aim of answering the question as to which version of the Penal Code predates the other. Questions of legal structures and legal logic are in the focus. With regard to discrepancies between the versions in 1QS and D, this study argues that most of the regulations in the S-version presuppose the older rules of the D-version.