These three men, Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah are palace officials who speak for Hezekiah and Jerusalem when Sennacherib’s commander maligns God. This story is found in 2 Kings 18, 2 Chronicles 32, and Isaiah 36. Eliakim and Shebna are also mentioned in Isaiah 22, this chapter is what really started this study. If you are going to do a word search for these names, please be aware that there are other men with these names. Joah for example is a name that is used several times in the family of Levi.
Joah – In Isaiah 36 he is identified as a son of Asaph and the recorder for Hezekiah. Asaph should be the musician that David appoints along with Heman in 1 Chronicles 6. This is a serious family line and it continues to the time of Josiah and Jeremiah.
He is a learned man because he knows the Assyrian and Aramaic languages and it is his job to record everything that goes on during the reign of Hezekiah. (It is possible that he documented this story.)
Other Levities, especially sons of Gershon, Moses’ son, and recorders are found in 1 Chronicles 6:21 and 26:4 and in 2 Chronicles 29:12 and 34:8.
Eliakim – This man was important for two reasons: 1. He was from the high priest’s family, Hilkiah. Like Jeremiah, he could have been a high priest. 2. He was the palace administrator. I believe that puts him in the same class as Daniel in Babylon under several kings, and Joseph in Egypt (under Potiphar, in the prison, and in Pharaoh’s house).
Isaiah 22: 20-24 could sound like Shebna had been the administrator and got demoted. That is a very positive word for Eliakim. I could also see it happening between Hezekiah and Manasseh’s rule since he was only twelve when he started.
Shebna – This name/man is mentioned only in connection with Sennacherib and Isaiah 22: 15- 19. Several titles are associated with him, so we know he was important. I find it odd that he has no family associations. Did his pride and questionable actions have anything to do with this? The chariots reference in vs 18 makes you think of Absalom’s behavior against David. Was he a royal? How much of the first part of Isaiah 22 was centered around him and his actions?
Whatever the truth is, my guess is he did not have a happy ending.
Further Study- Find the meanings of the names of Eliakim, Shebna, Joah, Hilkiah, Asaph, Hezekiah, and Isaiah. What does this add to the story?