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Who was the prophetess Anna?

Hello W,

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The name Anna is from the Greek word, “Hannah.” She was the daughter of Penuel from the tribe of Asher (Luke 2:36). Her name means “favor” or “grace.” Anna was an aged saint who bore the same name as that of the mother of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:2), the founder of the schools of the prophets.

Anna was a prophetess (Luke 2:36). The gift of prophecy was from time to time bestowed upon devout women, as well as upon men. Among the prophetesses were such women as Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Deborah (Judges 4:4), Isaiah’s wife (Isaiah 8:3), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14), and also the four virgin daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9).

The scriptures indicate that she was “advanced in many days” (Luke 2:36–37). She was at the very least 84 years old and more likely well over 100 years old. It is somewhat uncertain from the Greek whether the expression translated “of about fourscore and four years” is to be understood as applying to Anna’s age or to the duration of her widowhood. If Anna had been married at the early age of 15, had been married for 7 years, and then remained a widow for 84 years, she would then be 106 years of age. This would by no means be impossible, though the age of 84 would also make her “of a great age.”

Anna “departed not from the temple” (Luke 2:37) which means that she regularly attended the religious services there as well as witnessing before the people who assembled there (Acts 3:1; Acts 5:12, 20, 21, 25, 42; etc.). She faithfully attended the hours of morning and evening worship. Her life was absorbed in the service of God; she had no other interests to distract her attention.  Her continuing presence in the temple speaks eloquently of the love with which she served the Lord. The biographical detail with which Luke speaks of an obscure Bible personage such as Anna testifies to the historical quality of his account (Luke 2:37).

Upon hearing Simeon’s inspired testimony concerning Jesus, Anna’s own heart was touched with inspired insight to see in the child Jesus the promised Messiah (Matthew 16:17). Thus, at the dedication, two inspired witnesses confirmed what Mary and Joseph already knew concerning the child. And Anna gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of the Messiah (Luke 2:38).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team