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ANNA (ăn'a, Gr. form of Hannah, grace). Daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. Widowed after seven years of marriage, she became a prophetess. At the age of eighty-four, when the infant Jesus was brought into the temple to be dedicated, she recognized and proclaimed him as the Messiah (Luke.2.36-Luke.2.38).

ANNAăn’ ə (̓Άννα, or ̔́Αννα, G483, the equivalent of Heb. חַנָּה, H2839, grace). 1. Wife of Tobit (Tobit 1:9).

2. An aged prophetess in Jerusalem who was present at the presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:36-38). She was the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. Although her tribe was taken into the Assyrian captivity and never officially returned, her family had remembered its genealogy and returned to the Promised Land. After being married for seven years, she lived in widowhood until “a great old age.” She was now eighty-four years old (KJV; RSV), or more prob. the meaning is that she had been a widow for eighty-four years (ASV). Assuming that she was married at fifteen, the latter view would make her 106 years old.

A devout and saintly woman, she spent all her time in fasting and prayer. “Did not depart from the temple” can hardly mean she had her residence in the Temple precincts, but rather that she spent all her time there in the worship of God. At Christ’s presentation, she joined her praises with those of the aged Simeon to thank God for the long-awaited redemption through Messiah.

3. The mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus, according to the apocryphal Protevangelium of James (q.v.) and subsequent legends concerning the birth of the Virgin. Long childless, she and her husband, Joachim, received angelic assurances of the birth of a child in answer to their prayers. The girl, named Mary, was dedicated to a lifelong service of God. At the age of three Mary was taken to the Temple, by Anna, where she remained, fed by angels, until the age of twelve.

Later embellishments make Anna the mother of two more girls, both named Mary, who became the wives of Alphaeus and Zebedee respectively.

4. Douay VS form of Hannah (1 Sam 1:2)

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(Anna (Westcott-Hort, Hanna; see Intro, 408); Hebrew equivalent channah, signifying "grace" 1Sa 1:2):

(1) The wife of Tobit (Tobit 1:9).

(2) A "prophetess," daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, and thus a Galilean, living in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ birth (Lu 2:36-38). "Of a great age," she must have been considerably over 100 years, having been a widow 84 years after a short married life of seven (see the Revised Version (British and American)). Exceptionally devout and gifted in spirit, she worshipped so constantly "with fastings and supplications night and day," that she is said to have "departed not from the temple." Some have mistakenly supposed that this signified permanent residence in the temple. The fact that her lineage is recorded indicates the distraction of her family. Tradition says that the tribe of Asher was noted for the beauty and talent of its women, who for these gifts, were qualified for royal and high-priestly marriage. While the tribe of Asher was not among the tribes that returned from the Babylonian exile to Palestine, many of its chief families must have done so as in the case of the prophetess. The period of war and national oppression, through which Anna’s early life was passed, created in her, as in the aged Simeon, an intense longing for the "redemption" promised through the Messiah. See Simeon. This hope of national deliverance sustained her through more than four decades of patient waiting. In the birth of Jesus her faith was abundantly rewarded, and she became a grateful and ceaseless witness "to all them that were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem," that the day of their spiritual deliverance had come.


See Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus, I, 200-201, Gelkie, Life and Words of Christ, I, 133-34.

Dwight M. Pratt