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Encyclopedia of The Bible – Ananias
Ananias

ANANIAS ăn’ ə nī’ əs (̓Ανανίας; WH ̔Ανανίας, G393; Gr. form of Heb. חֲנַנְיָ֔ה, Jehovah is gracious). A name common among the Jews. A number of men in the OT and Apoc. bear the name in its Heb. form. See Hananiah.

1. KJV form for HANANIAH, one of Daniel’s three companions (S Th Ch, v. 66).

2. KJV form for ANNIAS (1 Esd 5:16), head of a family returning to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel.

3. KJV form for HANANI, son of Immer (1 Esd 9:21; cf. Ezra 10:20), a priest who put away his foreign wife.

4. KJV form for HANANIAH, son of Bebai (1 Esd 9:29; cf. Ezra 10:28), a Levite who had married a foreign wife.

5. KJV form for ANAIAH, one of those standing up with Ezra as he read the Law (1 Esd 9:43; cf. Neh 8:4).

6. KJV form for HANAN, one of the Levites who explained the Law to the people (1 Esd 9:48; cf. Neh 8:7).

7. The father of Azarias (Tobit 5:12). The angel Raphael identified himself to Tobias as the son of Ananias, Tobias’ kinsman.

8. A son of Gideon, an ancestor of Judith (Judg 8:1).

9. Husband of Sapphira, an early member of the church in Jerusalem who was punished with sudden death for his attempted deception (Acts 5:1-10). He and his wife coveted the approbation which the church bestowed on those who generously sold their possessions for the relief of the poor (4:32-37). Selling a piece of property, they agreed to contribute part of the proceeds under the pretense that it was the total amount received. The sin was not in retaining part, but in pretending that they were giving all, a deliberate attempt to deceive both man and God. When under separate questioning Sapphira reaffirmed her husband’s pretense, she also fell dead under the divine punishment (5:7-10).

10. A Christian at Damascus who was commissioned by the Lord to minister to Saul of Tarsus following Jesus’ appearance to him on the Damascus road (Acts 9:10-19). He was not a refugee from Saul’s persecution, but had heard of his activities and knew the purpose of Saul’s visit to Damascus. Upon being informed by a vision of Saul’s praying and the divine purpose for Saul, Ananias put aside his fears and carried out his commission. He addressed Saul as a Christian brother, explained to him the significance of his experience on the road (22:12-16), and assured him of recovery of sight and filling with the Spirit (9:17). Saul’s immediate recovery of sight was followed by baptism and a period of fellowship with the Christians at Damascus.

In his speech to the Jerusalem mob, Paul described Ananias as “a devout man according to the law,” having the full approval of the Jews at Damascus (22:12). Paul did not refer to Ananias in the account of his conversion before Agrippa II (ch. 26).

Later tradition makes Ananias one of the Seventy, bishop of Damascus, and a Christian martyr.

11. The high priest who presided over the Sanhedrin meeting called to interrogate Paul following his arrest in Jerusalem (Acts 22:30-23:5). Because of his insolent command to strike Paul on the mouth, Paul called him a “whitewashed wall” (23:3). Paul’s assertion that he did not know that Ananias was high priest has been variously explained (see comm. in loco.). He appeared in person in Caesarea to support the charges against Paul in the trial before Felix (24:1).

Ananias, the son of Nebedeus, was appointed high priest by Herod, king of Chalcis (Jos. Antiq. XX. v. 2), in a.d. 48. Quadratus, legate of Syria, sent him to Rome in a.d. 52 to answer charges of cruelty, but he was acquitted by Claudius through the efforts of Agrippa the Younger (Antiq. XX. vi. 2-3). He retained office until a.d. 58.

He was a typical Sadducee, haughty, wealthy, and unscrupulous (Antiq. XX. ix. 2). He cooperated with the assassins (sicarii) to accomplish his purposes. Because of his collaborations with the Romans, he was hated by the nationalistic Jews. When the war broke out in a.d. 66, he was hunted down by the assassins and murdered (War II. xvii. 9). He has been called one of the most unworthy men to hold the office of “high priest.”