IT requires but a slight acquaintance with the criticism of the Old Testament to appreciate the difficulty of stating the limits of our subject -- 'The Early Poetry of Israel'. We cannot be sure that all passages which are poetical in form as well as in spirit have as yet been detached from their environment of prose in the earlier literature of Israel; and again, the age of many of the poems or poetical fragments, which we may confidently distinguish as such, is still more uncertain.
For the purpose of the following Lectures I propose to use all pieces which are generally and reasonably -- though not always conclusively- assigned to the centuries before the eighth century B.C.: the age of the first prophets whose writings have come down to us, and probably the age of the bulk of those earliest documents of the Hexateuch, the so-called Jahwist and Elohist, in which most of the pieces have been preserved. That will include all the fragments of verse, mostly on genealogies and the characters and relations of tribes, which are found in the Book of Genesis, along with the fuller 'Blessing of Jacob' in chapter xlix and its counterpart (with differences) in Deuteronomy xxxiii; in Exodus xv, the Song of Miriam, and at least the opening of the Song of Moses, and xvii. 16, the War with Amalek; in Numbers the fragments found in chapters x. 35 36, xii. 6-8, xxi. 14b 15, 17b 18, 27-301.; and in chapters xxiii, xxiv the longer and shorter oracles of Balaam, the former of which I judge not later than David's time; in Joshua, the address to the Sun and Moon, x. 12 f.; in Judges, the Song of Deborah, ch. v, the Parable of the Trees, ch. ix, and the riddles and verses in the story of Samson, ch. xiv-xvi; in 1 Samuel the oracles in xv. 22 23 and 33, the repeated acclamation of David, xviii. 7, xxi. 12, xxix. 5, and the 'mashal' in xxiv. 142; in 2 Samuel the elegies ascribed to David, i. 17 ff., iii. 33 f. ;3 and in 1 Kings, viii. 12 f. (after the Septuagint) and xii. 16. Some of these are cited by the prose documents, which have preserved them, as taken from two or three early collections of songs: 'The Book of the Upright____________________