>  Top Jewish Tour Destinations in Israel   >  Motza Temple Site

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’s name is preserved in the Arabic name of the site – Qalunya.

In 1854, Jews established in Motza the first Jewish farm outside Jerusalem’s old city. When Theodor Herzl visited the Holy Land in 1898, he passed by Motza on his way from Jerusalem and planted a cypress tree. After he died in 1904, the tree he planted became a focal point for annual gatherings in memory of Herzl and his legacy. In the 1920s the first Jewish owned 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 before a new bridge was constructed. 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 2024, the temple is still excavated and must be fully exposed.

Did Jesus appear in Motza?

According to the last chapter of Luke, after his resurrection, Jesus appeared at 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 from Jesus’ time (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 2024, the excavations at the site have not been completed, and the site is not open to the public. Nevertheless, it is accessible.

Contact us to inquire more about a private tour to Motza Temple Site:

    Related Tours