Women in the Bible

Women in the Old Testament - Anna

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs. Matt is married to Pip and is one of the leaders at St Mary's.

Luke 2.36-8

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.


We only have two verses devoted to Anna in the Bible, but in them we see a remarkable woman of faith and devotion to God.

A few pieces of information are revealed about her:

Anna was an Asherite.

 Asherites had a mixed history amongst the people of God. When they entered the Promised land, they were given the 'worst' bit, so were fairly cynical towards the nation of Israel. As such, they were pretty inconsistent in their support for their nation when battles were being fought and ended up being conquered and assimilated by the Assyrians and became one of the lost tribes of Israel. By the time of Anna, there would have been very few of them left. So Anna's background is that of being part of a cynical and unreliable family or tribe.

Anna was the first evangelist.

Anna is the first person to tell the people who Jesus is, what he has come for. Simeon had told Mary & Joseph who their baby was - Anna tells anyone who will listen! There aren't many 84 year olds in our church, but if you're reading this and you're heading that way, remember that the first public witness to the saviour of the world was an 84 year old woman! God still has plans to use you for his glory.

Anna knew great suffering. 

It would have been common for most Jewish girls to marry aged 13 or 14. Anna was married 7 years before her husband died. Despite God commanding care for widows, there was much social stigma around the widowed. Many would consider this to be a sign of God's punishment. This is of course not true, but it meant that widows were extremely vulnerable, often pitied and even despised.This is the stigma Anna would have lived with for over 60 years.

Anna's response.

Anna devoted her life to the worship and service of God. She didn't become cynical or half-hearted about her faith like her tribe. She spent 60 years drawing close to God. She praised him despite her suffering. She prays night and day for her nation - asking God to come and restore them. She listens and becomes a respected prophet. She is open to the new thing God is doing and quick to respond and share the good news of redemption that is found in Jesus.

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