Who are the various Hananiahs in the BibleHananiah is a popular name in the Bible referring to at least a dozen different men. The name means "The LORD has been gracious" or "Favored of Yahweh." Each of these men were given a name that thanked God for the favor He had shown by bestowing to these families a son.
Some of these men have more information shared about them than others, but each was significant enough to be mentioned in the Bible. The Bible expounds on three Hananiahs in particular, one before the Babylonian exile, one during the exile, and one when the Jews returned to Jerusalem from their captivity in Babylon.
Before the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah wore a yoke around his neck, warning that Judah and the surrounding kingdoms should "bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people and live" (Jeremiah 27:12). A false prophet named Hananiah "took the yoke-bars from the neck of Jeremiah the prophet and broke them," falsely proclaiming that God would "break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all the nations within two years" (Jeremiah 28:10–11). Jeremiah responded to this false prophet, "Listen, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have uttered rebellion against the LORD'" (Jeremiah 28:15–16). "In that same year, in the seventh month, the prophet Hananiah died" (Jeremiah 28:17).
This Hananiah wanted the kingdom of Judah to resist the Babylonian forces and to hold out hope that their military and political distress was temporary, so he claimed to speak for God when sharing his personal advice for how he preferred to face their enemies. God, however, had already sent Jeremiah to speak the truth to His people. God meted out justice to Hananiah the false prophet and used it as an opportunity to prove to the listeners that Jeremiah was a true prophet by having the prophecy of death come to fruition within the year.
Another man named Hananiah survived the Babylonian conquest and was exiled to Babylon to be trained for service in the king's court. This Hananiah was friends with Daniel and, upon arrival in Babylon, his name was changed to Shadrach (Daniel 1:6–7). After their time of training, Hananiah, Daniel, Mishael, and Azariah stood before the king, "And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom" (Daniel 1:20). They were appointed as administrators in the province of Babylon (Daniel 2:49).
Later, King Nebuchadnezzar commanded that everyone bow before a golden statue, but Hananiah and his friends refused and instead "trusted in [God], and set aside the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God" (Daniel 3:28). God rescued them in the fiery furnace in sight of the king. So King Nebuchadnezzar recognized "there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way" (Daniel 3:29). Hananiah and his friends were given promotions (Daniel 3:30). This Hananiah's allegiance to the LORD, obedience to His commands, and faith in God's character were a great witness to those in Babylon and even influenced the most powerful king in the area.
Seventy years later, the Jews were permitted to return to Jerusalem and start rebuilding the city and their temple. Nehemiah, who was overseeing the rebuilding of the city's fortification walls, gave "Hananiah the governor of the castle charge over Jerusalem, for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many" (Nehemiah 7:2). This Hananiah, like the one in the fiery furnace years earlier, was a faithful man whose lifestyle set him apart in unique ways. Nehemiah, like King Nebuchadnezzar, recognized these qualities as traits that would qualify Hananiah to oversee the administration and governance of the city of Jerusalem.
The name Hananiah must have been particularly popular during the exile because four other men who returned to Jerusalem also bore this name. These men were: the son of Shelemiah who helped repair the wall around Jerusalem (Nehemiah 3:30), another Hananiah who was a perfumer who helped repair a different section of the wall (Nehemiah 3:8), one of the priests with a trumpet at the dedication when the wall was complete (Nehemiah 12:41), and a son of Bebai who committed to put away his foreign wife in favor of a Jewish wife (Ezra 10:28). Hananiah is listed as one of the names on the seals of the covenant when the people recommitted to following God (Nehemiah 10:23) and is listed as one of the heads of a priestly family (Nehemiah 12:12). These last two occurrences may refer to one of the previously mentioned Hananiahs, or may yet be different men. One more man named Hananiah during this time period is listed as a descendant of David, the son of Zerubbabel, in a genealogy in 1 Chronicles 3:19 and 21.
The name Hananiah appears at other time periods as well. Hananiah was a son of Shashak of the tribe of Benjamin listed in a genealogy that also includes King Saul (1 Chronicles 8:24). Hananiah was a son of Heman in the tribe of Levi and was a musician in ministry to the temple assigned to the sixteenth rotation of service before King David's rule ended (1 Chronicles 25:4, 23). Hananiah was a military official for King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:11). Hananiah was father to Zedekiah who was an official for King Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 36:12). And Hananiah was a grandfather to Irijah who arrested the prophet Jeremiah under the direction of King Zedekiah (Jeremiah 37:13).
While the Bible does not provide much information on these final few Hananiahs, it does list their name as men to be remembered. They came from different tribes, worked different jobs, raised different kids, and yet they were "favored of God" enough to be listed in His Word. While the name Hananiah may not be as popular as it once was, people today can still experience the truth of this name. The angels announced to the shepherds when Jesus was born, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests" (Luke 2:14 NIV). Paul wrote to Titus about Jesus' ministry, "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people" (Titus 2:11). So all people who place their faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord are "favored of God" and experience that "the LORD has been gracious," just like Hananiah's name declares.
Why is Jeremiah known as the weeping prophet?
Who was Zerubbabel in the Bible?
Why is knowing about the various characters in the Bible important?
The grace of God—What is it?
What is meant by the favor of God? How can I get the favor of God?
Truth about People in the Bible