Thus said the Lord GOD of hosts, Go, get you to this treasurer, even to Shebna, which is over the house, and say,…
I. SHEBNA THE HOUSE STEWARD. He was the steward of the household - a high office, as we may see from the allusion in Isaiah 36:3; Isaiah 37:2. Once it was held by a king's son (2 Chronicles 26:21; cf. 1 Kings 4:6; 1 Kings 18:3). This officer stood nearest the king, and had the domestic affairs of the palace under his superintendence. The office of the mayor of the palace under the Merovingian kings of France has been compared with it. It is thought that Shebna was not a native Israelite, as his father's name is not mentioned. Possibly he was a Syrian from Damascus, and a leader of the Egyptianizing party, whose perverse and crooked policy in collecting the subsidy for Egypt is denounced by the prophet in Isaiah 30:12.
II. HIS PRIDE AND OSTENTATION. He was busy hewing out for himself a family sepulcher in the rock. We realize what is meant when we see figured in works of art the magnificent rock-built tombs of Persia, of Lydia and Phrygia and Lycia, of Phoenicia, and the vast pyramid-tombs of Egypt. There kings desired to "lie in honor, each in his own house" (Isaiah 14:18). So, too, grandees - Eshmunazar King of Sidon, Joseph of Arimathaea, etc. - built themselves sepulchers in their lifetime. At Rome we look upon the famous tomb of Hadrian, now called the Castle St. Angelo, and the tomb of Caecilia Metella upon the Appian Way, the pyramid of Cestius. What may we learn from the habit of tomb-building? It expresses man's protest against the doom of mortality. On the tomb of Sardanapalus is said to have been written, "Eat, drink, and love; for the rest is little worth;" and yet the tomb itself is a witness that there hovers before the mind the thought of the future, in which man would still live and still be remembered by his fellows, even though only by means of the lifeless stone. Thus it expresses man's infinite longings, the cravings of a nature that nothing but eternity can satisfy. There was, then, something great, something even sublime, in this tomb-building instinct. "The power of acting for a distant object, of realizing distant good, and reaching forward to it over an intervening period of labor, has something moral in it." Yet, on the other hand, the motive may be something of a much lower order - vanity, self-exaltation. So the prophet views the undertaking of Shebna. He has no right, as a foreigner, thus to appropriate the soil of the sacred city, the slope of one of its hills.
III. THE DENUNCIATION. In the vehemence of his indignation, the prophet declares that Jehovah will clutch the offender tightly, will roll him as a ball, and toss him into a broad land; thither he, with the chariots on which he has been rolling about the city, shall go to die! Notice the opposition between the might of Jehovah and the weakness of mere man, however exalted. Shall mortal man attempt to rival the Eternal, proudly seeking to perpetuate his memory on earth (compare the thoughts in Job 4:17; Job 10:5; Job 22:2)? The leading Hebrew teaching recurs - the insignificance of ephemeral and frail man in presence of the mighty, just, and ever-living God. "The renown of that sepulcher which Shebna had built is indirectly contrasted with the ignominy which quickly followed it." "That the mask of his high rank might not screen him from the prediction, the prophet expressly states that the office which he holds aggravates his guilt and renders him more detestable. Let princes, therefore, if they do not wish to expose themselves and their houses to reproaches, learn to act with judgment in appointing men to hold office... Infer that God is highly displeased with that ambition by which men seek to obtain undying renown in the world instead of being satisfied with those honors which they enjoy during life. God punishes their haughtiness and presumption, and causes those things which they wished to be the records of their glory to become their disgrace and shame" (Calvin). - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say,