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EMMAUS (ĕ-mā'ŭs). The village to which two disciples were going on the day of Jesus’ resurrection, when he met and was recognized by them as he broke bread at supper (Luke.24.7-Luke.24.35). It was about seven miles (twelve km.) from Jerusalem, in what direction is not stated, though possibly to the NW. One site, ‘Amwâs, is 20 miles (33 km.) (some MSS read 160 stadia) from the city—too far to suit Luke’s narrative. Kubeibeh, Kuloniych, and other sites have their partisans.

Luke 24 describes two disciples journeying to Emmaus, which was sixty stadia (seven m.) from Jerusalem, and returning the same day after communing with Jesus.

The location of Emmaus must be looked for somewhere near Jerusalem, there being several possible locations ranging from four to twenty m. away, namely: el Kubeibeh; Kaloniyeh; ’Amwas; Abu Ghosh; el Khamsa; and Artas.

El Kubeibeh, seven m. NW of Jerusalem, similar to the distance in Luke 24:13, in its connection with Emmaus goes back to the times of the Crusaders who had found nearby the place Castellum Emmaus, an ancient Rom. fort, and at which place in 1878 the Franciscans found remains of a basilica of Crusader, or, possibly, Byzantine date.

Only four m. to the W of Jerusalem is the modern Kaloniyeh (cf. colonia), identified with an Emmaus at which Vespasian is said to have settled 800 soldiers, the location being according to Josephus, three and one half m. from Jerusalem (War VII. vi. 6). The Josephus MSS vary in reading either thirty (which has the better evidence) or sixty stadia, and if this is taken to have been the NT site, the latter reading must be accepted or the former (thirty stadia) be understood in a rather broad way.

At about twenty m. W of Jerusalem on the Jaffa road is an Emmaus where Judas Maccabaeus in 166 b.c. defeated Gorgias (1 Macc 3:40; 4:1-15), the name of which in the 3rd cent. a.d. was changed to Nicopolis, the modern designation being ’Amwas or ’Imwas. Arguments against identifying this place with NT Emmaus are twofold: ’Amwas seems to have been a city (being the seat of a toparchy, Jos. War III. iii. 5) instead of a village (Luke 24:13); and the distance of ’Amwas from Jerusalem is too great unless the variant reading, 160 stadia, of MSS Aleph in Luke 24:13 (the better reading is 60) be accepted with the resultant problem of having the two disciples traveling an arduous forty m. in one day from and to Jerusalem.

Abu Ghosh, about nine m. W of Jerusalem, also known as Kiryat el’Enab, makes claim to having been Emmaus for a Crusader church was built over a Rom. fort which contains an inscr. indicating that part of the Tenth Legion was stationed there. This place seems to be too far from Jerusalem to be identified with the Emmaus either of Luke 24 or of Josephus (War VII. vi. 6).

NT Emmaus is also conjectured to have been located at el Khamsa, over sixty stadia SW of Jerusalem, and at Artas, S of Bethlehem where Rom. baths were found.


E. Schürer, A History of the Jewish People, 2nd rev. ed., II (1891), 253-255; F. M. Abel, “La distance de Jérusalem à Emmaüs,” RB, XXXIV (1925), 347-367; A. Plummer, St. Luke, ICC (1925), 551, 552; L. H. Vincent and F. M. Abel, Emmaüs sa basilique et son histoire (1932); S. Caiger, Archaeology of the New Testament (1939), 90; R. de Vaux and A. Steve, Fouilles à Qaryet el-’Enab Abu Ghosh Palestine (1950); J. A. Grassi, “Emmaus Revisited,” CBQ XXVI (1964), 463-467; H. L. Strack and P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament, II (1965), 269-271.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

e-ma’-us, em’-a-us (Emmaous, derivation uncertain, but probably from chammath, "a hot spring"):

Josephus (BJ, IV, i, 3) says: "Now Emmaus, if it be interpreted, may be rendered `a warm bath’ for therein is a spring of warm water useful for healing." Here he is referring to the hot springs near Tiberias. Possibly the same Greek name may not always have been derived from the same Hebrew, and as Cheyne suggests (2) may have come from ha-motsah (see below).

1. Emmaus of the Apocrypha:

A place where Judas Maccabeus defeated Gorgias ( 1Macc 4); it was "in the plain" ( 1Macc 3:40); it was subsequently fortified by Bacchides ( 1Macc 9:50). It is frequently mentioned by Josephus (Ant., XIV, xi, 2; BJ, I, xi, 2; II, v, 1; xx, 4; IV, viii, 1; V, i, 6), and also in the Talmud and Midrash. It is now the modern mud-village of `Amwas, 20 miles along, and a little North of, the main road from Jerusalem to Jaffa. In the 3rd century it was called Nicopolis and was an episcopal see; in early Christian times it was famous for a spring of reputed healing qualities.

2. Emmaus of Luke:

The Emmaus of Lu 24:13, a village 60 furlongs (stadia) from Jerusalem. Early Christian tradition appears to have identified it with (1) and hence, to harmonize the distance, some manuscripts have 160 furlongs. Eusebius and Jerome place this Emmaus at `Amwas; but in the first place

(1) was a city and not a village (kome), and secondly

(2) the distance, 40 miles there and back, is an almost impossible one for the narrative.

In Crusading times this difficulty appears to have been realized, and on what grounds is not known, Kubeibeh at just over 60 stadia, Northwest of Jerusalem, was selected as the site of Emmaus. There a fine church was built which has in recent years been rebuilt and today a Franciscan hospice and school, attached to the church, and a newer German Roman Catholic hospice, combine with the considerable picturesqueness of the place itself to fortify the tradition.

A much more probable site is Quloniyeh, a village about 35 stadia from Jerusalem, on the road to Jaffa. Josephus narrates (BJ, VII, vi, 6) that Vespasian "assigned a place for 800 men only whom he had dismissed from his army which he gave them for their habitation; it is called Emmaus and is distant from Jerusalem 60 furlongs." This is almost certainly the Emmaus of Luke; it is highly probable that the name quloniyeh is derived from the fact of its being this Colonia. Close to this place is a ruin known as Bet Mizza, which is probably the Mozah (ha-motsah) of Jos 18:26 which in the Talmud (Cukk. 45) is also described as a colonia. Today it is a "colony" of Jews who have revived and always use the old name Motsah for their settlement.

Other suggestions for this Emmaus are

(a) el Khamsa, considerably over 60 stadia Southwest of Jerusalem (Conder);

(b) Koriet el `enab, some 10 stadia farther a1ong the Jerus-Jaffa road than Kuloniyeh (LB, etc.); and

(c) `Artas, S. of Bethlehem, where remains of Roman baths have been found (Mrs. Finn). In not one of the places suggested are there any hot springs.