And there was one Anna
The name is the same with Hannah: so Hannah, the mother of Samuel, is by the Septuagint called Anna, in ( 1 Samuel 1:2 1 Samuel 1:5 1 Samuel 1:9 1 Samuel 1:15 1 Samuel 1:19 1 Samuel 1:22 1 Samuel 1:25 ) and it signifies "grace"; or "gracious": and as was her name, so was she, a gracious woman; One that had the grace of God herself, and was a publisher of the glad tidings of grace and redemption by Christ, to others; and she was
for though prophecy had ceased among the Jews for some hundreds of years, it now revived upon the coming of the Messiah; and though instances of women prophets were rare, yet some there were, both before, and after the coming of Christ; as Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, Deborah, the wife of Lapidoth, and Huldah, the wife of Shallum; and this Anna, at the time of Christ's birth, and afterwards four daughters of Philip the Evangelist, who were virgins. This woman was
the daughter of Phanuel;
it is the same name with Penuel; and which, by the Septuagint, in ( 1 Chronicles 4:4 ) ( 8:25 ) is called Phanuel, as here. This man might be a person of some note, or he may be mentioned for the sake of his name, which signifies the face of God, and is the name Jacob gave to a certain place where he had seen God face to face, ( Genesis 32:30 Genesis 32:31 ) . And now Phanuel's daughter both saw and gave the light of the knowledge of God, in the face of Jesus Christ, and now beheld his face in the flesh, who is God over all, blessed for ever.
Of the tribe of Aser;
the same with Asher; for so Asher is called, as here, by the Septuagint, in ( Genesis 30:13 ) ( 49:20 ) and elsewhere: and though this tribe was carried captive with the rest of the ten tribes; yet there were some of the ten tribes that returned along with Judah and Benjamin, and were dispersed among them. This tribe had its seat in Galilee; so that though the Jews denied that any prophet came from thence, yet it seems a prophetess did.
She was of a great age:
the phrase is the same with that in ( Luke 1:7 ) there rendered, "stricken in years"; (See Gill on Luke 1:7). Her age will appear to be great, if it be observed, that she was seven years a married woman, and fourscore and four years a widow, which make ninety one; and if she was married at twelve years and a half, at which time the Jews F15 reckoned females marriageable, she must be an hundred and three years old; and perhaps her age might be eight or ten years more:
and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity:
this is mentioned to observe her chastity, that she was in her virginity, or a chaste virgin, when she became a wife; such an one as the high priest was obliged to have, ( Leviticus 21:13 ) and that the tokens of her virginity were brought, which the Jewish laws obliged to, ( Deuteronomy 22:15 Deuteronomy 22:17 Deuteronomy 22:20 ) and that she lived honestly, and honourably, with her husband, during the term of her marriage state.
F15 Maimon. Hilehot Ishot, c. 2. sect. 2.