In Isaiah 22:15-25, the prophet Isaiah rebukes Shebna for cutting a tomb for himself outside Jerusalem. Shebna, who is mentioned as one of the palace administrators for Hezekiah here in
Isaiah 37:2 will have been replaced and demoted to a secretary sometime after 712 BC, but before 701 BC.
But, here in Isaiah 22:15-25 in 712 BC the Lord tells Jeremiah to go speak these words to Shebna:
“Go, say to this steward,
to Shebna the palace administrator:
‘What are you doing here and who gave you permission to cut out a grave for yourself here, hewing your grave on the height and chiseling your resting place in the rock?
Beware, the Lord is about to take firm hold of you
and hurl you away, you mighty man. He will roll you up tightly like a ball
and throw you into a large country.
There you will die and there the chariots you were so proud of will become a disgrace to your master’s house. I will depose you from your office, and you will be ousted from your position.’ ”
In the midst of national crisis Shebna, a crucial palace official of Hezekiah’s, was more concerned about his memorial and his decorated tomb that he will use after his life of luxury and palace leisure than he is about his responsibilities to the people of Judah and King Hezekiah. Shebna should instead have focused on current international and local issues. He should have consulted the Word of God and assisted Hezekiah in the formulation of wise plans for Judah’s future.
About ten years later in Isaiah 37:2-3, Shebna is one of the palace officials sent by Hezekiah to ask Isaiah for advice concerning Sennacherib's invasion of 701 BC. But, it appears Shebna demise had begun by Isaiah 37 since Eliakim seems to have Shebna’s position as being “over the house." Shebna has been demoted to “secretary” by 701 BC . Eliakim may have favored Isaiah’s policy of independence and encouraged trust in the Lord, while Shebna continued to promote international reliance on Assyria and Egypt.
The Shebna Inscription (details here and here; image here; diagram here) was found in a tomb in Silwan on the slopes of the Kidron Valley outside the City of David (Jerusalem). This is considered the possible location of Shebna's focus in 712 BC when he was King Hezekiah’s royal steward. The inscription is from the burial tomb of "--iah, the royal steward." The inscription reads:
"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 [tomb]."
It is likely that Shebna was never buried here since the Lord promised him that he was going to:
"take firm hold of you and hurl you away, you mighty man. He will roll you up tightly like a ball and throw you into a large country." - Isaiah 22:17-19
The Hebrew word root word tsnp, meaning "to wind" and "to wrap" is used to form three Hebrew words that are used in a sequence, to say: tsanop yitsnapeka tsenepa. Literally, those words are saying something like:
"winding up he will wind you a winding."
The idea is that Shebna is going to be crumpled up like a piece of paper into a wad so that the Lord can throw him like a ball of paper out of the land of Judah. The ESV translates Isaiah 22:17-19 like this:
"will roll you up tightly like a ball
and throw you into a large country.
There you will die
and there the chariots you were so proud of
will become a disgrace to your master’s house."
It looks like Shebna is going to be taken into Assyria before he dies along with the chariots he both rode in and trusted in, would also be taken.