According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the history of the Hebrew language is usually divided into four major periods:
- Biblical (or Classical) Hebrew, until about the 3rd century BC, in which most of the Old Testament is written;
- Mishnaic (or Rabbinic) Hebrew, the language of the Mishna (a collection of Jewish traditions), written about 200 AD (this form of Hebrew was never used among the people as a spoken language);
- Medieval Hebrew, from about the 6th to the 13th century AD, when many words were borrowed from Greek, Spanish, Arabic, and other languages; and
- Modern Hebrew, the language of Israel in modern times.
This view does not account for Hebrew in its Ancient or Paleo form which became effective as a written form circa 1450 BC and was historically used up until the time of the Babylonian Exile circa 600 BC. Upon the return of the Israelites from Babylon the language began to be written in a form of script adapted from the Babylonian experience.