“And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.” Luke 2: 36-38
Little is known of Anna, just as little is known of the tribe of her ancestry. Asher was the eighth son of Jacob by Leah’s maid Zilpah. After the exodus from Egypt, Asher as one of the tribes of Israel was given land in northwest part of Canaan, in the area around Mt. Carmel. However, boundary descriptions in scripture makes it difficult to pin point its borders. Moses Blessing on the tribes mentions the fertility of the Asher’s territory, “He dips his foot in oil” and “Asher’s food shall be rich and he shall yield royal dainties.”
However, the tribe the tribe seems to have been little regarded by its brother tribes, nor did it participate in the much of the history of Israel. At least one of its cities was given to Hiram of Tyre, by Solomon, in payment for timber deliveries.
Nevertheless, with the importance of genealogies in Israel, Luke identifies her as a true Israelite. Depending on how one reads her years of marriage and widowhood, she was at least 84 years old or possibly even 105.
She has no lines to speak, at least recorded in Luke’s account of Jesus in the temple. But she is a prophetess, a counterpart to Zechariah. By implication, like Zechariah, Mary, Elizabeth and Simeon, the Holy Spirit rests upon her. Thus she recognizes the baby, gives thanks to God and tells those in the temple, who, are also waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem from all its sins.
Psalm 130:5,” I wait for the Lord my soul waits and in his word hope. 7. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.”