The road to Emmaus is an event recorded in detail by Luke and mentioned by Mark in which two Disciples unknowingly encounter the risen Jesus on their journey north toward Galilee from Jerusalem on the day of the resurrection of Jesus (Luke 24:13-35; Mark 16:12-13). Cleopas, the named disciple, who may also be mentioned in the Gospel of John, and the unnamed disciple were on the road leading to the village of Emmaus, where they had initially intended to stop for the night (Luke 24:18; John 19:25). Although the identification is extremely tentative, it has been suggested that this anonymous disciple was actually Luke himself, choosing not to use his name in the same way that John refers to himself only as the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 20:2). These disciples were not part of the 11 Disciples, but the larger following of Jesus. However, apparently almost all of the followers of Jesus were on their way home after hearing about or seeing the empty tomb (John 20:9-10). During the journey by foot, which was several miles, Jesus explained the prophesies in the Scriptures that had been fulfilled by Him so that they fully understood the plan of God for salvation carried out through the work of Jesus Christ (Luke 24:25-32). The encounter ended after they all reclined to break bread, recognized Jesus, and He vanished. Many Christian missionary organizations use this method of explanation through the entirety of the Scriptures to communicate the Gospel that Jesus demonstrated on the road to Emmaus (Cross, The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus).
Emmaus, meaning “warm spring” in Aramaic, is mentioned only once in the Gospels, and the geographical information from this passage only specifies that it was about 60 stadia away from Jerusalem (Luke 24:13). Although a message to go north to Galilee was to be relayed to the 11 Disciples, these other two followers of Jesus may have been going back to their homes elsewhere (Matthew 28:10; Mark 16:7). Multiple towns during the Roman period had the name Emmaus, but Josephus also seems to record this same town called Emmaus or Ammaus in Judea, that the Romans camped there after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and that it was 60 stadia from Jerusalem (Josephus, Wars; note Latin manuscripts record the distance as 30 stadia). The problem is that the length of stadia could vary, even though the statement by Herodotus of a stadion being equivalent to 600 Greek feet is most often used in modern calculations. A study which compared the cited stadia in ancient writings to calculated distance arrived at a figure of 157.7 meters/517.4 feet as an average stadion (Engels, “The Length of Eratosthenes’ Stade”). That calculation would place Emmaus about 5.9 miles from the walls of ancient Jerusalem. However, it is also possible that the 185 meter stadion was used in Judaea Province, placing Emmaus about 6.9 miles from Jerusalem. Therefore, any site identified as Emmaus should be located within those approximate boundaries and have 1st century remains. Eusebius actually recorded what he thought was the location of Emmaus in the Gospel of Luke, placing it at the Byzantine town of Nicopolis which was about 160 stadia from Jerusalem (Eusebius, Onomasticon). This error seems to have been the result of a textual variant in a few ancient manuscripts of Luke which have 160 stadia instead of 60 stadia, and apparently Eusebius had consulted a manuscript with that mistake for the distance from Jerusalem and therefore miscalculated the location of Emmaus (Metzger, Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament).
Many candidates for the ancient site of Emmaus have been proposed, but most are either too far or too close to Jerusalem. Only Qubeiba and Artas are approximately 60 stadia from Jerusalem, with Qubeiba located to the northwest and Artas located to the south. However, no known remains from the Roman period have been discovered at Artas. The site of Qubeiba was considered the Emmaus of the Gospels during the Crusader periods (Castellum Emmaus), and although Byzantine remains have been found in the area, earlier traditions are unknown (Ehrlich, “The Identification of Emmaus with Abu Gos in the Crusader Period Reconsidered”). However, there is a Roman road running through Qubeiba, and finds from the Roman period at an ancient site were discovered adjacent to the modern village, indicating that the site meets the requirements of distance and 1st century occupation (Fischer and Taxel, “Yavne, Survey Map”). Therefore, near Qubeiba currently seems to be the most plausible candidate for Emmaus.