Seven Sleepers of Ephesus
by Jacob of Saruq, translated from Classical Syriac by Wikisource
1085082Seven Sleepers of EphesusJacob of Saruq

1. During Decius' Persecutions

Sons of God whose door lies open to the one who calls on him, open your door for me: I compose a hymn of the sons of light. He who separates his own flock for himself is the good shepherd, and he makes those who will conquer congregate with him in lofty abodes. Let the Farmer who picks the seed for his own grain from the weeds be blessed, he has sown these things in the field of life which is in the kingdom. My speech about the Boys from Ephesus, sons of the noble ones, must be said to people listening. Hear me you laborers, and you sons sing the praise of their bedroom. The Emperor Decius left from his own place to another, to see the towns and cities of his empire. He left Ephesus and struck it with a great cause for fear, and he held a celebration for Jove and Apollo and Artemis, and he wrote a letter to the lords of his empire that they should all come together and burn incense for the gods. Chiefs, old men, young men and boys convened and offered incense to the silent images made by hand.

2. Some Young Men from Ephesus Are Brought to the Emperor

Also there were the lovable Boys, sons of the nobles, who looked down on the command, and in order that they not be those people's companions, they humbled themselves; and after entering the house of Jesu, they hid themselves from that wrath so that the stench of unclean incense not come up to them. Their associates saw them and leveled a charge against them before the Emperor: "Because see here are the Boys who resist your command." The Emperor heard and burned with anger against the gentle and ordered the Boys to be brought there so he might see them. The wolves ran forth and seized the Lambs from the midst of the flock, and with a quickness they brought them to the Emperor's sight. The Emperor saw their lovable dignity and spoke with them seductively, saying: "Tell me, Boys, why have you violated my order? Come and offer sacrifice and I will make you nobles."

3. They Refuse to Sacrifice to Idols and Are Given Time to Think It Over

The son of the officer opened his mouth and so did his seven Companions: "We do not worship things mute and made by hand," he said; "that Lord of heaven is present for us and he will help us, and we worship him and offer purity of heart to him: and you certainly have Jove as a king and Apollo and Artemis; but we have the Father and Son and holy Spirit." The Emperor gave the order and they struck them with rods; again he ordered them saying: "Dismiss them until I come." He hastened, of course, to see the towns and cities, and was for that reason thinking about return, and in such a mind he entered into Ephesus. The Emperor withdrew from Ephesus to his business; but the lovable Boys took council among themselves: "Let's depart and flee from this city of the Ephesians, before the accursed Emperor comes and tortures us."

4. They Flee to A Neighboring Cave

There was in that area a hollowed out cave on a cliff at the top of a mountain, and the lovable Boys decided to hide in it. They took some of their fathers' money with them: certainly it was to be that they would have been seized from that place and praised. They brought neither chosen clothes nor oldest with them: since there was no need of nice clothes, as they saw it. And out of the coinage of the pagans' Emperor they brought with them some silver: for he who has [not] money from a coin holds a sign by which he may be seized and bound. They climbed the mountain and having entered the cave right there they spent the night, and they called on the Lord with a voice of groaning and spoke like this: "We seek you, good Shepherd, who have picked out his own sheep, guard your flock against that wolf which is thirsting for our blood."

5. Where They Slept In

God saw the faith of his lovable Lambs and came in order to give good reward of their payback. He took up their spirits and lifted them up high into the sky, and he left a guard to protect their limbs. The Emperor went back and, after entering Ephesus, he asked: "Where are the Boys who have been rebels to command?" They responded to him, saying: "Look, they hid at the top of the mountain in a cave." He even ordered them, and the craftsmen came with their devices, and they made stones roll down with their siege-engines and placed them at the entrance. There were present two sophists, the sons of noblemen; and it occurred to them it was to come about that the Lord would wake them: and they made lead tablets and put them in their midst and wrote the names of the Sons of light upon them, and for what reason the Boys, having entered the cave, hid themselves there -- and where they fled for quite a time from the face of Decius.

6. Having Woken Up After Many Years They Send One of Them to Ephesus

The age of the pagan emperors passed, and at the same time their rule departed; and God willed to awaken the Sons of light. There was in that same place a rich man in Ephesus, and he wanted to build a place for his flock at the mountain's top, and he collected rocks and built an enclosure in that place for his flock: and he saw the hewn stones and removed them. Light entered and awoke the Sons of light, and they shook sleep from off of themselves and sat up on the ground (miraculous to state!) and the lovable Boys began to deliberate amongst themselves: "Now who will go down and see whether the Emperor has come; who will learn and look into what his command is regarding us? Certainly, whether he will have missed us or no, and will report back to us?" One who was from their number, and called Iamlicus, himself said: "I will go down and find out, and in the guise of a beggar I will enter inside the palace, and I will learn and look into what he will have instructed regarding us." They responded to him, saying: "Take the money and bring back some bread; because, look, since night we have had no bread and haven't eaten."

7. He Thought He Had Slept Only A Single Night

The Boy hurried from the mountaintop, and came into the city, and called on the Lord with a groan, saying: "We seek you, good Shepherd, who have picked out his own sheep, guard your flock against that wolf which is thirsting for our blood." And with eyes lifted he saw the cross above the gate and turned his head, and with a cry he worshipped it: and he began to look around, if by chance one of the pagans might see him; he began to speak in his thinking: 'What is over there? Because, behold, at evening the cross was hidden from the pagans, and look!, today it is set openly above the gate?' The Boy went on and came to another gate, and lifting his eyes he saw likewise the cross placed above the gate, and he began to say: "Out of my mind, I've become mad and am insane. Do you think this is that city Ephesus in which I was raised?" He looked at a man sitting in the forum, approached him and asked: "Tell me, kind sir; what city is this?" "This city," he replied, "is called Ephesus." But he stood astounded thinking in his mind about what had happened to it.

8. All New Things Are Marveled at

He continued to run about the cross-roads and did not turn aside from the path, until he came to the palace and saw that the gates were closed to him. He turned away to the forum so he could buy some bread and bring it back with him. He gave the money pulled out from his money-pouch. The man who was selling bread took it and looked at it closely, and nodded to his companion so that he would both come and look at it. That money went through the hands of five men who, having considered it, began to mutter among themselves about it. And the Boy saw them murmuring between them, and said replying: "Hand me the bread, if you hand it over, or I will go away." The man who was selling bread approached and laid hold of him, saying: "Tell me, Boy; where are you from, and what land is yours? And hand over the treasure trove which you have found so that we may all have a share of it. But if you refuse to tell me, I will have you arrested." The Boy replied, [saying] "I have never seen any treasure, and I don't know anything about it at all."

9. & He Was Found Out Because of The Ancient Money from A Treasure-Trove Uncovered

A clamor of voices fell over the Ephesians' forum, because, look!, the Boy found treasure: and they immediately grabbed him. Word went to the holy church, to the bishop: and he sent for that they should take him with their hands; and he questioned him. "Tell me, Boy, where are you from, and what land is yours, and what place is yours, and where is the hoard of treasure which they say you have found?" The Boy said: "I am from Ephesus itself, and I'm the son of Rufus the choice, who is one of the nobles." And Iamlichus began to look around at the crowd, to see if by chance he might recognize someone from his house or family, or of his brothers, or kin, or people he knew who would visit his father, and that might take him from their hands. And when he saw no one from his clan or family, tears burst out from his eyes and he began to weep.

10. He Reveals the Unusual Story of his Companions

There was a sophist present there in the holy church who grabbed the Boy and asked him discerningly, "Tell me the truth, son: why do you come to not? Reveal and it and explain where you're from, and don't hide yourself from me." The Boy said: "I will tell you the truth; but you reveal and show to me which things I ask you sincerely. Respond to me and tell me: where is the emperor Decius? Seriously, I will then disclose to you my affairs in turn." Hearing this, the sophist was mightily amazed, and grew incensed towards the Boy who demonstrated deep things to him. "You worthless, unspeakable...", [he said], "you're deserving of death, do you mock me? Do I seem to you like a two-year old boy? That man of whom you spoke died the longest time ago, and according to number and count of Greeks three hundred and seventy two years are thought to have passed by from that emperor." The Boy said: "Certainly I and my Associates have fled from that emperor, and behold I slept at the top of the mountain as did my seven Companions."

11. Many Citizens of Ephesus Came to See Them with Their Bishop

The aristocrats and old men and nobles and even boys congregated to go up and see the treasure of life which had been revealed to them. A voice fell over the entire vicinity of the Ephesians, saying: "Come and see that treasure which has been made manifest to us." The Boys who were in the cave heard, and they were moved and afraid, thinking that the emperor had sent followers to seize them; and the son of the officer comforted them, saying: "Rise and be comforted, and put on the armor of faith, and let us trust in God, since he helps us and strengthens us and guides according to his will." And when he was encouraging them, the Boy entered and stood in their midst, and the bishop and aristocrats came in at once with him: they saw the Boys sitting on the ground, and they greeted them, saying: "Peace be with you." And they immediately wrote a letter to the emperor Theodosius, and they said: "Come lord, and see the treasure of life which has been revealed to us."

12. & They Went to The Emperor Theodosius

The Emperor hurried and came down and saw them: he greeted them, saying: "Peace be with you." He took the lead tablet and started to read on account of what reason the Boys entered into the cave and were shut up there. But then the Emperor invited them to come down to Ephesus with him, for he was planning to build a temple over their bones. They replied, saying: "We will be in this place, because we love this spot. The Shepherd of his own flock himself commanded us to be in this place. Because of you, behold, Christ our lord awakened us, as you see and make proof of, because truly resurrection exists[...] And he left them, and they rested in that eternal sleep. Let the Shepherd be praised who separates his own flock, and made them heirs of the marriage and paradise and the eternal kingdom.

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This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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