Cave of the Seven Sleepers

Cave of the Seven Sleepers
A view of the cave of the seven sleepers, some 20 minutes from Amman. (Photos: By Kimi Bississo/Jordan News)
Aimlessly cruising in the car down the airport road on a random day, a sign sitting off the side of the road caught my attention as I whisked by. I’ve used this highway innumerable times as a passage for adventure, and yet never once took notice of the sign before. It read: “Cave of the Sleepers.”اضافة اعلان

The “Cave of the Sleepers” is a story that I was familiar with, but could this be the cave mentioned in religious texts? After a little research, not only did I learn that the cave named by the sign is the living site from the actual account, but that it is located in the village of Rajib, a mere twenty-minutes from Amman

The thought had never occurred to me to pinpoint an actual location for the story, or even that a physical site ever existed. But thanks to a lone sign sitting on the side of the road, an entire voyage had been laid out for me. The story of the “Cave of the Sleepers” is told in Christian tradition and a version of the tale is also found in Islam; an entire chapter of the Quran is dedicated to “The Cave.” 

According to the story, there was a group of seven young men who lived in an era of idol worship, around 250AD. These men did not know of one another but what brought them together was their common belief in God, the one God. The majority of scholars say it took place during the period of time between Jesus and Prophet Mohammad. It is said that monotheism in this specific point in time was preached in secret due to an oppressive pagan leader named Decius, a Roman governor under the Roman Emperor, who mandated idol worship. 

For fear of persecution or being forced back into idol worship, the young men ran from the city and took refuge in a cave where they intended to stay a short while. It is here that God unfolded upon them a miracle which is now known to be their story. The miracle was that as they lay to sleep, it was decreed by God that they would sleep for three centuries in this cave, their bodies preserved perfectly. Upon waking up, they felt as though they had not been asleep for more than a day. Little did they know, they had been asleep for 309 years: a protection from God to keep them asleep until an era of justice and tolerance was available for them. 

A brown wooden door opens inwards to enter the cave, followed by three steps down .The grounds keeper, who is visited daily by tourists and local guests, began to share the story immediately upon our entry. He has black short hair and a long, well-kept beard and was wearing a long white thobe. He must be blessed with infinite patience as he repeats this cave’s story; he knows the narrative means a great deal to many people so he responds with composure to the countless questions asked by his guests. 

His calm, detailed description was greatly appreciated as I tried not to take up too much of his time. To the immediate right of the entrance are the four tombs of the seven men; directly facing them on the other side of the cave are the remaining three. Towards the back of the cave is a flat area where it is believed the men had taken their rest, before later being moved into their own separate tombs.

Jordan hosts an astounding number of biblical sites, attracting people from all over the world. Visitors make their way here not only to observe one of the wonders of the world, among other tourist favorites, but also to experience a first hand glimpse of the past through the uncountable historic sites that are spread throughout the country. 

The cave of the seven sleepers is a must visit that fosters an intimate relationships with its guests. A grand story filled with great reflection is perfectly situated between its walls. The site is a twenty-minute drive from Amman that will take you back a couple thousand years.

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