September 1994 - 14:72
In the days of Hezekiah, King of Judah, prior to Sennacheribs siege of Jerusalem, there was an ambitious official in the kings service whose name was Shebna. Out of an inflated sense of prominence, and perhaps fueled by ambition, Shebna had carved for himself a magnificent tomb from solid rock (a custom usually reserved for royalty). How he must have relished the day of his death!
When Isaiah learned of the deed, he approached the corrupt treasurer and rebuked him. [The oracle against Shebna (Isa. 22:15-23) is the only instance in Isaiah of an oracle against a named individualCundall, 1975, 5:380.] The prophet informed Shebna that Jehovah would cast him into a far country, and there he would die; accordingly, the dignitary would have no use for his elaborate mausoleum. The record of this exchange is found in Isaiah 22:15ff.
In 1953, an archaeologist by the name of N. Avigad translated an inscription taken from the lintel of a rock tomb in Jerusalem. Written in archaic Hebrew, and dating to the time of Hezekiah, the inscription (with some restoration) said, This is the sepulcher of [Shebna]yahu [a more complete form of the name], who is over the house [cf. Isa. 22:15]. There is no silver or gold here but only his bones, and the bones of his slave-wife with him. Cursed be the man who breaks this open.
Some scholars believe this stone lintel is from the tomb of the Shebna rebuked by Isaiah (Blaiklock, 1983; Cundall, 1975, 5:380). Apparently, though Shebna had this inscription made for his tomb, he was never to inhabit his rock-hewn home, since Gods prophet declared that he would be exiled and die in an alien land. Where men propose, God can dispose.
Though we do not deprecate making plans for ones burial (in fact, such is a wise procedure that will assist ones children), in the final analysis it is best to focus attention upon eternity!
Blaiklock, E.M. (1983), Shebna, New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology, ed. E.M. Blaiklock and R.K. Harrison (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), p. 410.
Cundall, A.E. (1975), Shebna, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. Merrill Tenney (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 5:380-381.
Copyright © 1994 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may be copied, on the condition that it will not be republished in print unless otherwise stated below, and will not be used for any commercial purpose, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) any references, footnotes, or endnotes that accompany the article must be included with any written reproduction of the article; (4) textual alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden; (5) Some illustrations (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, etc.) are not the intellectual property of Apologetics Press and as such cannot be reproduced from our site without consent from the person or organization that maintains those intellectual rights; (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, in whole or in part, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original written content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken. Further, documents may not be copied without source statements (title, author, journal title), and the address of the publisher and owner of rights, as listed below.
For catalog, samples, or further information, contact:
230 Landmark Drive
Montgomery, Alabama 36117
Phone (334) 272-8558