LITERATURE. Only a scanty portion of ancient 'Hebrew literature has come down to the present day. The Tell el-Amarna tablets show that writ ing on clay was known in Palestine as early as n.c. 1400. Writirw among the Hebrews. however, probably did not begin before we. 1000, although the written records embody some poetic produc tions that belong In an earlier acre. The balk of the remains of ancient Hebrew literature is to be found in the Old Testament and since the latest portions of the Old Testament (e.g. the Book of Daniel) bring us down to the age, it embraces a period of about 900 years. To the Old Testament, however, must be added as properly belonging to Hebrew literature various books of the apocrylilmal literature, such as the Book of Ecclesiasticus, written icy Jesus Sirach about we. ISO, of which more than half of the originals have recently been recovered, and others of which the originals are lost.
With reference to form and contents this Hebrew literature may be divided into poetry (lyric, epic, didaetic, and religious), history (in cluding legends. traditions, and myths in his torical garb), legal codes, religious discourses, and tomalleys (including apocalyptic works), and philosophical disquisitions. The oldest specimens
of Hebrew literature are found in the poetical productions, e.g. the Song of Deborah (,ludges v.), the fable of Jotham (Judges ix. 7 sqq.). the elegy on Saul and Jonathan (11. Sam. i. 17 sqq.). The earliest collections of traditions and historical reminiscences date from the tenth century, em bodied in more systematic productions in the ninth century. (See ELonisT ,Ni) YAIIWIST.) The compilation of legal codes begins in the ninth century (the Book of the Covenant, Exodus xxi. xxiii.) and extends to about rs.e. 500 (the Priestly Code). The diseourses of the prophets likewise date hack to the eighth century, while, the latest sections belong to the third century. Romances belong to the post-exilic period exclu sively, and to this period also belongs the great body of the religious poetry ( Psalms), as well as time philosophical productions (Eeclesiastes and Job). For details see the articles on the separate books of the Old Testament ; also BIBLE, PENTA