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!”

The term “who is over the house” is a title meaning royal steward, the most important functionary in the royal household. Amah may be a term for a slave-wife or it may be a title akin to “Lady.” Scholars believe the tomb had been built for Shebnayahu, the royal steward excoriated in Isaiah 22:15–17: “Go in to see that steward, that Shebna [a shortened form of Shebnayahu], in charge of the palace … O you who have hewn your tomb on high; O you who have hollowed out for yourself an abode in the cliff! The Lord is about to shake you.”