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SHEBNA ():

Chamberlain of the king's palace, the office being filled also by Jotham (II Kings xv. 5). Shebna may be identified with the officer designated as "ha-soken" (Isa. xxii 15-19), probably a caretaker or steward (see Bloch, "Phönizisches Glossar," s.v. "Zakan").

The prophet censures Shebna because he built for himself a tomb in the upper part of the rock, perhaps near the royal tombs on Mount Zion. The beginning of Isaiah's denunciation, "What hast thou here? And whom hast thou here?" has been construed as implying that Shebna was of alien birth. But probably the meaning implied is that Shebna was an upstart or intruder. His non-Israelitish origin, however, is indicated in the kind of punishment with which he is threatened: Yhwh will roll him like a ball into a country less mountainous than Canaan, but broad—referring to the wide plains of the Euphrates and Tigris.

Shebna favored the political connection of the kingdom of Judah with Egypt; hence it is very probable that he was taken prisoner as an enemy of the Assyrians during an invasion of the latter. The name "Shebna" itself points to a non-Israelitish origin in the more northerly regions, either Phenicia or Syria; the same stem has been found by Levy in ("Siegel und Gemmen mit Aramäischen, Phönizischen, Althebräischen und Altsyrichen Inschriften," p. 40, Breslau, 1869). Probably Shebna had risen to office under King Ahaz, who favored foreign undertakings and connections.

It has been argued that the Shebna to whom reference is made above is not the same as that mentioned in the following passages: Isa. xxxvi. 3, 11, 22; xxxvii. 2; II Kings xviii. 18, 26, 37; xix. 2, in which, with the exception of II Kings xviii. 18, 26 (where occurs), the name is uniformly written . This Shebna, who is called "sofer" (scribe), is everywhere mentioned after Eliakim; but in all likelihood he was identical with the office-holder censured by Isaiah.

Bibliography:
  • R. Kittel. Handkommentar über die Bücher der Könige, 1900;
  • Marti, Kurzer Handkommentar über das Buch Jesaja, 1900;
  • Ad. Kamphausen, Isaiah's Propheey Concerning the Major-domo of King Hezekiah, in the American Journal of Theology, 1901, pp. 43 et seq.
E. G. H. E. K.
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