Monday, January 5, 2015

Bonus 46 - Royal Steward Inscription

An inscription from Silwan (Siloam), from the lintel of a royal steward's tomb.
The name is largely obliterated (only the last two letters, "hw", survive), but is
believed to be Shebna-yahu. See also [1]. - British Museum WA 125205
Photo by Mustafaa Public Domain
The Royal Steward Inscription or Shebna Inscription is a Hebrew inscription from a lintel over a tomb discovered at Siloam (Silwan) in the Kidron Valley in Jerusalem in 1870. 1.  In 1871 the British Museum purchased the limestone inscription from the French archaeologist Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau. Although severely damaged and only two letters of the name (hw) preserved the title of the occupants position is preserved and reads “over the house” of the king. With the help of the date of the script the inscription was finally deciphered in 1953 by the Israeli epigrapher Nahman Avigad after Yigal Yadin suggested that the name was Shebna. 2. 

Avigad’s translation reads:
“1) This  is  [the  sepulchre  of...]yahu  who  is  over  the  house.  There  is  no  silver  and  no  gold  here  2) but  [his  bones]  and  the  bones  of  his  slave-wife  with  him.  Cursed  be  the  man  3)  who  will  open  this! 3. 
The British Museum translates the text as
"This is ... [the tomb of Shebna] ...iah, the royal steward. There is no silver or gold here, only ... [his bones] ... and the bones of his maidservant with him. Cursed be the man who opens this" 4. 
The inscription over the cave is accepted by most scholars as the tomb of Shebna, the royal steward of King Hezekiah (716-686 BC) who is mentioned in Isaiah 22:15. 5. 


Footnotes
  • 1. This tomb is among the necropolis of the Kidron Valley among the tombs of other notable people such as Jehoshaphat, Absalom, Zechariah and others. Nahman Avigad, “The Epitaph of a Royal Steward from Siloam Village,” Israel Exploration Journal 3, no. 3 (1953): 138.
  • 2. Nahman Avigad, “The Epitaph of a Royal Steward from Siloam Village,” Israel Exploration Journal 3, no. 3 (1953): 137–152, Pls. 8–11; Robert Deutsch, “Tracking Down Shebnayahu, Servant of the King.” Biblical Archeology Review 35, no. 3 (May/Jun 2009): 45; Clermont-Ganneau did speculate that the name might be Shebnah. Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau, Archaeological Researches in Palestine, I. (London: Palestine Exploration Fund, 1899): 313.
  • 3. Nahman Avigad, “The Epitaph of a Royal Steward from Siloam Village,” Israel Exploration Journal 3, no. 3 (1953): 143.
  • 4. The British Museum
  • 5. Deutsch, Robert, “Tracking Down Shebnayahu, Servant of the King.” Biblical Archaeology Review 35, no. 3 (May/Jun 2009): 45-49, 67.
For Further Study
  • AndrĂ©, Parrot. “Review of N. Avigad.— The Epitaph of a Royal Steward from Siloam Village.” Syria 31, no. 3 (1954): 355–56.
  • Avigad, Nahman. “The Epitaph of a Royal Steward from Siloam Village,” Israel Exploration Journal 3, no. 3 (1953): 137–152, Pls. 8–11.
  •  Avigad, Nahman. “The Second Tomb-Inscription of the Royal Steward,” Israel Exploration Journal 5, no. 3 (1955): 163-166.
  • Clermont-Ganneau, Charles Simon. Archaeological Researches in Palestine, I. London: Palestine Exploration Fund, 1899, 305-313.
  • Clermont-Ganneau, Charles Simon. Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement, London: Palestine Exploration Fund, 1871 103.
  • Colon, D. Ancient Near East Art. London: British Museum Press, 1995.
  • Deutsch, Robert, “Tracking Down Shebnayahu, Servant of the King.” Biblical Archaeology Review 35, no. 3 (May/Jun 2009): 45-49, 67.
  • Frances, F. (Ed), Treasures of the British Museum. London: British Museum Press, 1972
  • Ussishkin, David. “On the Shorter Inscription from the ‘Tomb of the Royal Steward.’” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 196 (1969): 16–22.

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