Isaiah’s Ire: “The Tomb of the Royal Steward”

Sidebar to: The Tombs of Silwan

This well-known tomb from Silwan is shown in the photo above as it appears today and as drawn by the French excavator Clermont-Ganneau in 1874, when it was first studied. The tomb contains a main chamber (entered through the doorway at left) and a secondary chamber to the right. Nahman Avigad suggested that this tomb, too, had originally been topped by a pyramid.

Clermont-Ganneau discovered two inscriptions, a longer one over the entrance and a shorter one to the right of the entrance. In order to save the inscriptions, Clermont-Ganneau had them cut out of the facade, leaving behind the two wide depressions seen today. The inscriptions are today in the British Museum.

Resisting decipherment for nearly 80 years, the longer of the Royal Steward inscriptions is now known to read: “This is [the sepulchre of … ]yahu who is over the house. There is no silver and no gold here/but [his bones] and the bones of his amah with him. Cursed be the man/who will open this!”

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