A village toward which Cleopas and a fellow disciple were journeying when they were joined by the materialized Jesus Christ on the day of his resurrection. It was not, however, until after they reached Emmaus and Jesus “was reclining with them at the meal” that they recognized him. Following Jesus’ subsequent disappearance the two disciples returned to Jerusalem that same evening.—Luke 24:13-33.
The location of Emmaus is uncertain, at least a half-dozen different sites having been proposed. Most prominent among these is Amwas on the road to Jaffa, where the name Emmaus, at least, appears to have been historically preserved. Amwas was traditionally accepted as Emmaus as early as the fourth century C.E. by such writers as Eusebius and Jerome. An imposing objection to Amwas, however, is its distance from Jerusalem, for the primary clue Luke gives as to the village’s location is that it was ‘sixty stadia’ (equaling about seven English miles or approximately seven and a half Roman miles [11.3 kilometers]) distant from Jerusalem. (24:13) Amwas is 176 stadia W-NW of that city, almost three times as far as Luke mentions. It has been estimated this would have meant an arduous five-hour walking trip in the dark for Cleopas and his companion when returning to Jerusalem after Jesus left them. (24:33) Some have attempted to reconcile this distance gap by the reading of ‘one hundred and sixty stadia’ in the Codex Sinaiticus and other manuscripts, but the weight of manuscript evidence is in favor of the present text. Conversely, another oft-proposed site, Qaloniyeh, located on the main road to Jaffa and accepted by some as the Ammaous referred to by Josephus, is about thirty-six stadia from Jerusalem and so is too close to fit Luke’s record.
Some, therefore, prefer to identify Emmaus with El-Qubeibeh, on a more northerly Roman road than the other suggested sites. Here remains have been found believed to date back to the Greek Scripture period. The location, some sixty-three stadia NW of Jerusalem, lends support to the view that this may be the Biblical city. Nonetheless, any final identification is impossible at this time.