A Source Study
y of numbers in our documents when one edition gives the total slain in a battle as 14,000, another as 20,500, the next as 25,000, and the last as 29,000! Is it surprising that we begin to wonder whether the victory was only a victory on the clay tablet of the scribe? What shall we say when we find that the reviser has transformed a booty of 1,235 sheep in his original into a booty of 100,225! This last procedure, the addition of a huge round number to the fairly small amount of the original, is a common trick of the Sargonide scribe, of which many examples may be detected by a comparison of Sargon's Display inscription with its original, the Annals. So when Sennacherib tells us that he took from little Judah no less than 200,150 prisoners, and that in spite of the fact that Jerusalem itself was not captured, we may deduct the 200,000 as a product of the exuberant fancy of the Assyrian scribe and accept the 150 as somewhere near the actual number captured and carried off.
This discussion has led to another