ANNA (in Greek writings, for Heb. HANNAH):
By: Kaufmann Kohler
1. Tobit's wife, of his own kindred (Tobit i. 9), consanguineous marriages being regarded by the pious Jews of old as especially meritorious (see Kohler, "The Pre-Talmudic Haggadah," in "Jewish Quarterly Review," v. 406, note). 2. A saintly woman mentioned in the New Testament, daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher, who, after seven years' marriage, had been a widow for fourscore and four years, spending night and day in the Temple with prayers and fasting, and who, as prophetess, had spoken of the coming advent of the Messiah to those assembled there as worshipers "looking for the redemption of Jerusalem," when the sudden appearance of Jesus, the infant, on the scene, caused her to give thanks to God for the fulfilment of the Messianic prediction (Luke, ii. 36-39). Exactly the same story is told of Simeon, the devout one of Jerusalem, that "while looking for the consolation of Israel" he had received a revelation by the Holy Spirit that he should not die before he had seen the Lord's Anointed, and when he saw the child Jesus in the Temple he blessed God for the salvation he had seen (Luke, ii. 25-34). Such "mourners for Zion, who look for the Messianic salvation" or "for the consolation," are mentioned in the early Midrashim (Pes. R. xxxiv.; Bar. Apoc. xliv. 7; compare Luke, xxiii. 51).
These two stories of Luke have the true Jewish coloring, whatever may be said regarding the historic character of these two witnesses to the Messianic claim of Jesus. It is certainly remarkable that there existed a rabbinic legend of another long-lived saintly woman, Serah, the daughter of Asher, who was permitted to live all through the years of Egyptian oppression in order that she might aid in the redemption of Israel by the discovery of the bones of Joseph (Mek., Beshalaḥ, i.). See