Exegetes have suggested that Shebna was King Hezekiah’s majordomo and treasurer (see especially Isaiah 22:15–19, quoted below). Shebna was one of the “bad boys” of the Bible and the Lord set him apart for specific chastisement if he did not repent.
We read in the Scriptures that Shebna had pridefully built for himself a magnificent tomb for his resting place or habitation (מִשְׁכָּן). Alexander has, “The מִשְׁכָּן is supposed by some to have allusion to the oriental practice of making tombs in shape (frequently in size) like houses, by others more poetically to the idea of the grave, as a long home, (בֵּית עולָם, literally, eternal abode or everlasting home, בֵּית עוֹלָמו.), the very name applied to it by Solomon (Ecclesiastes 12:5).”
Henderson has, “The Phoenicians also called the sepulchre, חדר בית עלם the chamber of the eternal house.” Barnes suggests that many men wished to make their sepulcher grandiose in order to assure their immortality, such as the ones found on the side of the rocks at Petra.
I thought about this as we walked through the streets of the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, where each mausoleum seemed to compete with the other for formidableness. These expensive buildings varied in price depending on the construction materials, location (prominent main artery vs. smaller side streets) as well as who the neighbors were.
The owners of these sepulcher houses must pay upkeep. After one generation, if these places are abandoned, the dead therein are thrown into a mass grave.
I am not picking on Argentina, of course, as we have our own cemetery of this type in Santiago, Chile, and there are similar ones in many parts of the world. But my thoughts were transported back to Isaiah, to Shebna, to the Plan of Salvation and to our true eternal abode. Christ has paid the price for each one of us in perpetuity. It is through His tender mercies and grace that He strengthens us and helps us overcome our weaknesses.
Our everlasting house also requires effort on our part. It is being constructed with each decision we make in mortality. President Russell M. Nelson taught: “What we choose to do here will determine the kind of life we have throughout all eternity.”  While I know this, the words of our beloved Prophet have found his words seemed to find a special place in my heart. What sort of abode am I building for myself?
In Alma 41:14 we read,
“Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again.”
15 Thus saith the Lord God of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say,
16 What hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high, and that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock?
17 Behold, the Lord will carry thee away with a mighty captivity,
and will surely cover thee.
18 He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord’s house.
19 And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down.
Gregorio Billikopf belongs to the Llanquihue Branch, Puerto Montt Stake, in the south of Chile. He is the author of Isaiah Testifies of Christ and an emeritus academic of the University of California and professor of the University of Chile; author of Party-Directed Mediation: Facilitating Dialogue between Individuals and other books. Gregorio’s paternal grandparents are Lithuanian Jews and German Jews and on his mother’s side of the family he is Chilean. He found Christ through reading the Book of Mormon. You may contact him through firstname.lastname@example.org.