The Rhetorical Use of Israel, Ephraim, and Judah in the Damascus Document

Main Article Content

Hanne Kirchheiner


The rhetorical use of the terms Israel, Ephraim and Judah in the Damascus Document has been the focus of much debate, but some key issues have still not been resolved. This study revisits the discussions regarding the usage of these terms. In some passages Israel and Judah are used with qualifiers, which can for instance be seen in the intriguing phrase, “the penitents of Israel, who left the land of Judah” (CD 6:5, also attested in 4Q266 3 ii 12 and 4 Q267 2 11-12). This inquiry offers a survey of the passages in which qualifiers are used. Ephraim is only mentioned explicitly in two sections of the Damascus Document (CD 7:12-13 and CD 14:1, also attested in 4Q267 9 v 2-3) in which Isa 7:17 is quoted featuring the discourse of Ephraim departing from Judah. One of these passages is analysed to uncover the usage of Ephraim versus Judah in this discourse. It is concluded that “the Princes of Judah” are compared to Ephraim and depicted as those who depart, because they have adopted a foreign way of life, the way of the kings of Greece. They are accused of causing national division similar to the schism when Ephraim departed from Judah. In this discourse Judah signifies the movement reflected in the Damascus Document. The qualifiers are seen to be key to understanding the usage of Israel and Judah. Israel is the party with whom God made a covenant, “all Israel” has strayed, but “the penitents of Israel” have repented of their sins. Whenever Judah is used with a qualifier, it is seen to concern the political leadership of Judah and its rule of the land.

Article Details

Research Articles