an'-a (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