The prophet Anna (Lk 2:36-2:36)

“There was a prophet,

Anna,

The daughter of Phanuel,

Of the tribe of Asher.

She was of a great age.

She had lived

With her husband

Seven years

After her marriage.”

 

Καὶ ἦν Ἄννα προφῆτις, θυγάτηρ Φανουήλ, ἐκ φυλῆς Ἀσήρ· αὕτη προβεβηκυῖα ἐν ἡμέραις πολλαῖς, ζήσασα μετὰ ἀνδρὸς ἔτη ἑπτὰ ἀπὸ τῆς παρθενίας αὐτῆς,

 

Next Luke introduced a female prophet, Anna.  There were some female prophets in the biblical literature like Miriam in Exodus, chapter 15:20, the sister of Aaron and Moses, who was called a prophet like her brother Aaron, the first instance of women worshiping God.  Deborah, in Judges, chapter 4:4, was a married woman prophet from the northern tribe of Ephraim who led troops into battle.  Finally, Huddah in 2 Kings, chapter 22:14-20, was one of the few mentioned female prophets.  The elders in Jerusalem consulted her about what to do with a holy book.  Her response led to the religious revival under King Josiah (640-609 BCE).  Like the other Israelite male and female prophets, Anna interpreted God’s will for his people.  Luke said that there was a prophet Anna (Καὶ ἦν Ἄννα προφῆτις), the daughter of Phanuel (θυγάτηρ Φανουήλ), of the northern tribe of Asher (ἐκ φυλῆς Ἀσήρ).  Her father’s name Phanuel was considered to be the fourth of the great archangels with Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel, according to the 3rd century BCE work, the Book of Enoch, but there is no implication here that she was angelic.  Thus, she was not a local Judean, but a northern Galilean Jewish person from Asher.  She was greatly advanced in years (τη προβεβηκυῖα ἐν ἡμέραις πολλαῖς), since she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage (ζήσασα μετὰ ἀνδρὸς ἔτη ἑπτὰ ἀπὸ τῆς παρθενίας αὐτῆς).  She had become a widow.

The wider meaning of prophet

The term prophet had a wide meaning among the Israelites, since it also included people like Abraham, Moses, and Miriam.  That is why some so-called historical books are often called the early prophets.  Jewish traditions hold that there were 48 male prophets, and seven female prophets, Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, and Esther.  Others have recognized Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah as female prophets also.  Thus, there is a wide range of written prophetic books in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament.  The Hebrew prophetic dominant message was a return to Yahweh and his laws.  They were to protect the poor, the orphans, and the widows.  Justice and righteousness dominate in their messages.  Yahweh would judge them.  Although some Israelites were sinners, they would have a bright future if they turned from their evil ways to Yahweh.

Yahweh recalls his saving action from Egypt (Mic 6:3-6:4)

“O my people!

What have I done

To you?

In what have I wearied you?

Answer me!

I brought you up

From the land of Egypt.

I redeemed you

From the house of slavery.

I sent before you

Moses,

Aaron,

Miriam.”

Yahweh, via Micah, recalled his saving action from Egypt.  He had saved his people, Israel from slavery.  He had done so much for the Israelites.  He wanted them to remember that he had weaned them as a new country.  He had sent 3 great leaders like Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, all from one family in Egypt.

The thanksgiving canticle of Judith (Jdt 15:14-16:4)

“Judith began this thanksgiving before all Israel. All the people loudly sang this song of praise. Judith said.

‘Begin a song to my God with tambourines!

Sing to my Lord with cymbals!

Raise to him a new psalm!

Exalt him!

Call upon his name!

The Lord is a God who crushes wars.

He sets up his camp among his people.

He delivered me form the hands of my pursuers.

The Assyrian came down from the mountains of the north.

He came with myriads of his warriors.

Their numbers blocked up the Wadis.

Their cavalry covered the hills.

He boasted that he would burn up my territory.

He would kill my young men with the sword.

He would dash my infants to the ground.

He would seize my children as booty.

He would take my virgins as spoil.’”

This appears to be a canticle of Judith. In a sense, it is like the summary canticle in Tobit, chapter 13. Yet all the people seem to sing this song. This beautiful hymn harkens back to Exodus, chapter 15, where there is a victory chant of Moses after they got out of Egypt. This also seems like the short victory chant of Miriam, the sister of Moses. This song is to be sung with tambourines and cymbals. Once again, there is a correlation to the psalms also. You are to exalt the Lord because he crushes or decides wars. God delivered Judith from the hands of her enemies. The mighty Assyrian strong northern warrior blocked the brooks, the valleys, and the mountains. They were going to burn our territory, kill our young men and infants, and seize our children and virgins. The enemy is always portrayed in the worst light.

The sons of Amram (1 Chr 6:3-6:3)

“The children of Amram were Aaron, Moses, and Miriam.”

Based on Exodus, chapter 6, Amram, the son of Kohath and grandson of Levi, married Jochebed, his father’s sister and thus his aunt. He lived 137 years. He had two important sons Aaron, whose name appears in biblical literature over 340 times, and Moses, whose name appears over 9,000 times in the biblical literature, as well as a daughter named Miriam, whose name only appears 13 times. The most interesting character is Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, who married Amram, her nephew, whose name only appears 2 times. Jochebed is an odd character since she is the mother of Moses and Aaron, as well as the daughter of Levi, who was born in Egypt, which means very little time passed between Joseph and Moses. However, the earlier passages in Exodus seem to indicate a long lag time because no one in Egypt remembered Joseph. Surely Jochebed would have remembered her uncle Joseph. In the passage about the birth of Moses her name never comes up, just the descriptive ‘mother of the child.’   The same is true of Moses’ sister Miriam, who is also nameless in the Exodus, chapter 2 passage, where the parents are simply called Levites. Many rabbis have tried to interpret Jochebed as a cousin of Kohath, rather than his sister, but the translation texts, both English and French, speak of her as a sister of Kohath and therefore the aunt of Amram. Not too many people marry their aunts so that Moses and Aaron’s mom was also their great aunt.

 

Ezrah (1 Chr 4:17-4:18)

“The sons of Ezrah were Jether, Mered, Epher, and Jalon. These are the sons of Bithiah, the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered married. She conceived and bore Miriam, Shammai, and Ishbah, the father of Eshtemoa. His Jewish wife bore Jered the father of Gedor, Heber the father of Soco, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah.”

This is the only mention of Ezrah and his son Jalon in the biblical literature. There were 6 different people with the name of Jeter, the most famous being the Jether, who was the father of Amasa in 1 Kings, chapter 2. There appears to be 2 other people with the name of Epher, 1 a son of Midian in Genesis, chapter 25, and other in the Manasseh tribe later in this book. Mered is mentioned twice here because he married Bithiah, a daughter of an Egyptian Pharaoh. They had 2 children, Ishbah, who is only mentioned here, and Shammai, which is the same name as a son of Onam and Rekem. Ishbah, however, became the father or founder of Eshtemoa, a Levite city in Judah, since probably his son founded this town. Ezrah married a Jewish woman and they had 3 children. Jered is a name mentioned earlier in this book. Gedor became the name of a place in the hills of Judah. There were 7 people named Heber in the biblical literature. This Heber is the founder of Soco, which is a city in Judah. Although this is the only mention of Jekuthiel, he founded another town in Judah called Zanoah.

Leprosy (Deut 24:8-24:9)

“Guard against an outbreak of leprous skin disease by being very careful. You shall carefully observe whatever the Levitical priests instruct you, just as I have commanded them. Remember what Yahweh your God did to Miriam on your journey out of Egypt.”

They were really afraid of leprosy. This is like Leviticus, chapters 13-14, and Numbers, chapter 12. There is the reminder of what happened to Miriam. The Levite was the priest, the doctor, and the judge on leprosy.