The Damascus Document frequently refers to wealth in contexts illustrative of communal history, relations, boundaries and ideals. The admonitions and legislation regarding wealth indicate a longstanding and pervasive interest in commercial exchanges and a relatively stringent attitude toward economic behavior.
With the publication of the Cave 4 Damascus Document manuscripts by Joseph Baumgarten, we are now in a position to explore all of the evidence for the disposition of wealth as admonished and legislated in this textual tradition. (1) The number of manuscripts discovered would normally allow for some analysis of the diachronic development of the legislation about wealth, but because the wealth passages do not vary appreciably from one another, this line of inquiry yields little information. While diachronic development is not apparent between manuscripts of the same passage, it is nevertheless apparent between the various passages, since these derive from different redactional stages and genres in the document.
The following study will present the passages, on wealth first in terms of their distribution across the editorial layers and literary genres of the document, and second in terms of their content. In this second section, the texts will be organized into three groups: those in which wealth describes some aspect of communal history, those in which wealth is a subject of legislation for communal relations, and those in which wealth functions as a communal boundary marker. In the course of the explication of these passages, certain ideals or rationales for the community's commercial ethic will be highlighted, while documentary evidence from the Judean desert will be introduced to illuminate certain terms that appear.