And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)A widow of about fourscore and four years.—The better MSS. read, “up to the point of fourscore and four years,” pointing to the fact that this was the duration of her widowhood. Assuming her to have been married at fifteen, this places her actual age at 106. She had lived through the whole century that preceded the birth of Christ, from the death of John Hyrcanus, and had witnessed, therefore, the conquest of Judæa by Pompeius, and the rise of the Herodian house.
Which departed not from the temple.—Probably some chamber within the precincts was assigned to her, as a reputed prophetess, as seems to have been the case with Huldah (2Chronicles 34:22). Her form, bent and worn, we may believe, with age and fastings, had become familiar to all worshippers at the Temple. She, too, was one of the devout circle who cherished expectations of the coming of the Christ.
Fastings and prayers - Constant religious service. pending her time in prayer, and in all the ordinances of religion.
Night and day - Continually - that is, at the usual times of public worship and in private. When it is said that she departed not from the temple, it is meant that she was "constant" and "regular" in all the public services at the temple, or was never absent from those services. God blesses those who wait at his temple gates.See Poole on "Luke 2:36"
Which departed not from the temple that is, she was constant in her devotion there, at the time of divine service, whether by night or day; not that she was in it, for she had been out of it now; otherwise it could not with propriety be said of her, that
she coming in that instant, as in the next verse; but that she always was there when there was any worship performed, in which women might be concerned, and which is pointed out in the next clause:
but served God with fastings and prayers, night and day: she attended to the usual fasts of twice a week, and to such as were enjoined the whole congregation, and to the several set times of prayer, and to every act of devotion, private or public, by night or day. In Exodus 38:8 we read of women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: both the Targums of Onkelos and Ben Uzziel render it, "who came to pray"; and the Septuagint version, "that fasted": Anna did both.And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Luke 2:37. Ἕως (see the critical remarks) ἐτ. ὀγδοήκ.: even to eighty-four years, she had come even to this age of life in her widowhood. Comp. Matthew 18:21 f. Rettig is mistaken in his judgment upon ἕως in the Stud. u. Krit. 1838, p. 221. Comp. Dem. 262, 5.
οὐκ ἀφίστατο κ.τ.λ.] a popular description of unremitting zeal (comp. Hom. Od. ii. 345, Il. xxiv. 72) in the public worship of God. Comp. xxiv. 53.
νύκτα κ. ἡμέρ.] Thus also at Acts 26:7; Mark 4:28; 1 Timothy 5:5. Elsewhere the order is inverted. Instances of both arrangements may be seen in Bornemann, Schol. p. 27; Lobeck, Paralip. p. 62 f., and from the Latin: Heindorf on Horat. Sat. i. 1. 77. In this place νύκτα, is prefixed in order, as in Acts, l.c., and 1 Timothy 5:5, to make the fervency of the pious temple-service the more prominent. The case is otherwise, where it is simply a question of definition of time, at Esther 4:15.Luke 2:37. ἕως: either a widow for eighty-four years (Godet), or, as most think, a widow till the eighty-fourth year of her life. The former rendering would make her very old: married, say, at sixteen, seven years a wife, eighty-four years a widow = 107; not impossible, and borne out by the πολλαῖς after ἡμέραις (Luke 2:36, advanced in days—many).—νηστείαις: the fasting might be due to poverty, or on system, which would suggest a Judaistic type of piety.—νύκτα κ. ἡ.: did she sleep within the temple precincts?37. departed not] She was present (that is) at all the stated hours of prayer; unless we suppose that her position as a Prophetess had secured her the right of living in one of the Temple chambers, and perhaps of doing some work for it like trimming the lamps (as is the Rabbinic notion about Deborah, derived from the word Lapidoth ‘splendours’).
fastings] The Law of Moses had only appointed one yearly fast, on the Great Day of Atonement. But the Pharisees had adopted the practice of ‘fasting twice in the week,’ viz. on Monday and Thursday, when Moses is supposed to have ascended, and descended from, Sinai (see on Luke 18:12), and had otherwise multiplied and extended the simple original injunction (v. 33).
prayers] Rather, supplications (a more special word).
night and day] ‘Night’ is put first by the ordinary Hebrew idiom (as in the Greek word νυχθήμερον) which arose from their notion that ‘God made the world in six days and seven nights.’ Comp. Acts 26:7, “unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God night and day (Greek), hope to come.” 1 Timothy 5:5, “she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.”Luke 2:37. Ἐτῶν, of years) These were the years of her whole life, not of her widowhood only. It was persons advanced in age who were the first after the angels in doing honour to the birth of the Christ: so that it might hereby be made evident that the salvation brought in by Him relates to the better life.—ὁγδοήκοντα τεσσάρων, eighty-four) Therefore Anna had been about twenty-four years old when Jerusalem had come under the power of the Romans, led by Pompey as their general.—νηστεἰαις, fastings) even in her old age.
 Which succeeds this life. For old people could have derived no good from the salvation, if it affected merely the life which they were so soon about to leave.—ED.Verse 37. - Which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. Probably, in virtue of her reputation as a prophetess, some small chamber in the temple was assigned to her. This seems to have been the case with Huldah (2 Chronicles 34:22). It has also been suggested that she lovingly performed some work in or about the sacred building. Farrar suggests such as trimming the lamps (as is the rabbinic notion about Deborah), derived from the word lapidoth, splendor. Such sacred functions were regarded among all nations as a high honor. The great city of Ephesus boasted her name of νεωκόρος, temple-sweeper, as her proudest title to honor.
The A. V. might be supposed to be stating her age; but the best texts read ἕως, until, instead of ὡς about; and the statement refers to the time of her widowhood; a widow even for (or up to) fourscore and four years. So Rev.
The present participle, serving. Rev., worshipping. See on Luke 1:74.
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