Motza Temple Site
Motza is located 9 km west of Jerusalem, along the Sorek valley. The book of Joshua (18:26) indicates it was in the lot of the tribe of Benjamin. According to the Mishnah (Sukkah 4:5) willows from Motza were used in the temple during the feast of tabernacles. After suppressing the Jewish Rebellion (66-70 CE), Romans settled in Motza, and renamed “Colonia Amosa”. This place name is preserved in the Arabic name of the site – Qalunya. In 1854 the first Jewish farm founded outside Jerusalem’s old city was established in Motza. When Theodor Herzl visited the Holy Land in 1898 he passed by Motza on his way from Jerusalem and planted a cypress tree. After his death in 1904 the tree he planted became a focal point for annual gatherings in memory of Herzl and his legacy. In the 1920’s the first Jewish health resort in Israel was established next to it.
Motza Temple Site
In 2012 salvage excavations were carried out near Motza’s former health resort, prior to constructing a new bridge. The excavations also yielded remains of an early Israelite period Temple. In 2017 Prof N. Na’aman suggested that perhaps this is the site of “Oved Edom the Gittite” where the ark was placed for three months (2 Samuel 6:10-11). As of 2022 the temple is still being excavated and not yet fully exposed.
Did Jesus appear in Motza?
According to the last chapter of Luke, after his resurrection Jesus appeared in the site of Emmaus (24:13). While most scholars identify Emmaus either at Emmaus-Nicopolis or in Abu Ghosh, some scholars suggest Emmaus should be identified with the semitic placename Motza. Furthermore, excavations conducted in Motza in 2001-3, at Khitbet Nissa, uncovered remains also from the time of Jesus (Thiede 2005).
Na’aman N. 2017. The Judahite Temple at Tel Moẓa near Jerusalem: The House of Obed-Edom? Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University 44:3-13.
Thiede C. P. 2005. “Die Wiederentdeckung von Emmaus bei Jerusalem” [Rediscovering Emmaus near Jerusalem]. Zeitschrift für antikes Christentum 8 (3): 593–99.
Touring Motza Temple Site
As of 2022 the archaeological site of Motza is still being excavated and is not developed for tourism. Nevertheless it is accessible.