The Info List - Shebna Inscription

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The SHEBNA INSCRIPTION is an important ancient Hebrew
inscription found at Siloam outside Jerusalem
in 1870. After passing through various hands, the inscription was purchased by the British Museum
British Museum
in 1871.

The inscription is broken at the point where the tomb's owner would have been named, but biblical scholars have suggested a connection to Shebna on the basis of a verse in the bible mentioning a royal steward who was admonished for building a conspicuous tomb.


* 1 Discovery * 2 Description * 3 Inscription
text * 4 Royal Steward of Judah * 5 See also * 6 References * 7 Further reading


The inscribed lintel was found in 1870 above the entrance to a cave near Jerusalem. At one stage it belonged to the French archaeologist , Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau , before being purchased by the British Museum one year after its discovery.


The limestone inscription was so severely damaged that it was not possible to completely decipher the script until 1952. Nevertheless, the inscription is significant because it allegedly describes a figure from the Bible called Shebna who was sent by King Hezekiah to negotiate with the Assyrian army. The three-line Hebrew
funerary inscription indicates that the cave was the tomb of Shebna, the royal steward of King Hezekiah (715–687 BC).


The writing is in Biblical Hebrew
and can be dated to the seventh century BC. Read from right to left the inscription reads zo't yahu asher 'al ha bayt 'ain kesef ve zahav im ve 'etsem amatah 'itah arur ha 'ish asher yiftach 'et zo't

which is translated as: "This is ... ...iah, the royal steward. There is no silver or gold here, only ... ... and the bones of his maidservant with him. Cursed be the man who opens this."


The royal steward or court chamberlain was a powerful figure in Ancient Judah . According to Isaiah 22:15–16, the royal steward appointed by King Hezekiah was called Shebna and he was admonished for building himself too grandiose a tomb . Although the name of royal steward is broken at the point where the official is named, it has been conjectured on the basis of the biblical verse that this monumental inscription originates from the tomb of Shebna.


* Isaiah 22 * Siloam Inscription


* ^ British Museum
British Museum


* F. Frances (Ed), Treasures of the British Museum, London, 1972 * D. Colon, Ancient Near East Art, British Museum
British Museum
Press, London, 1995

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