Hebrew is attested epigraphically from about the 10th century BCE, and spoken Hebrew persisted through and beyond the Second Temple period, which ended in the siege of Jerusalem (CE 70). It eventually developed into Mishnaic Hebrew, spoken up until the fifth century CE.
Biblical Hebrew as recorded in the Hebrew Bible reflects various stages of the Hebrew language in its consonantal skeleton, as well as a vocalic system which was added in the Middle Ages by the Masoretes. There is also some evidence of regional dialectal variation, including differences between Biblical Hebrew as spoken in the northern Kingdom of Israel and in the southern Kingdom of Judah. The consonantal text was transmitted in manuscript form, and underwent redaction in the Second Temple period, but its earliest portions (parts of Amos, Isaiah, Hosea and Micah) can be dated to the late 8th to early 7th centuries BCE.
Biblical Hebrew has been written with a number of different writing systems. The Hebrews adopted the Phoenician alphabet around the 12th century BCE, which developed into the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet. This was retained by the Samaritans, who use the descendent Samaritan alphabet to this day. However, the Aramaic alphabet gradually displaced the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet for the Jews, and it became the source for the modern Hebrew alphabet. All of these scripts were lacking letters to represent all of the sounds of Biblical Hebrew, though these sounds are reflected in Greek and Latin transcriptions/translations of the time. These scripts originally only indicated consonants, but certain letters, known by the Latin term matres lectionis, became increasingly used to mark vowels. In the Middle Ages, various systems of diacritics were developed to mark the vowels in Hebrew manuscripts; of these, only the Tiberian vocalization is still in wide use.
Biblical Hebrew possessed a series of "emphatic" consonants whose precise articulation is disputed, likely ejective or pharyngealized. Earlier Biblical Hebrew possessed three consonants which did not have their own letters in the writing system, but over time they merged with other consonants. The stop consonants developed fricative allophones under the influence of Aramaic, and these sounds eventually became marginally phonemic. The pharyngeal and glottal consonants underwent weakening in some regional dialects, as reflected in the modern Samaritan Hebrew reading tradition. The vowel system of Biblical Hebrew changed over time and is reflected differently in the ancient Greek and Latin transcriptions, medieval vocalization systems, and modern reading traditions.
Biblical Hebrew had a typical Semitic morphology with nonconcatenative morphology, arranging Semitic roots into patterns to form words. Biblical Hebrew distinguished two genders (masculine, feminine), three numbers (singular, plural, and uncommonly, dual). Verbs were marked for voice and mood, and had two conjugations which may have indicated aspect and/or tense (a matter of debate). The tense or aspect of verbs was also influenced by the conjugation ו, in the so-called waw-consecutive construction. Default word order was verb–subject–object, and verbs inflected for the number, gender, and person of their subject. Pronominal suffixes could be appended to verbs (to indicate object) or nouns (to indicate possession), and nouns had special construct states for use in possessive constructions.