The jar and the beans looked completely intact from a distance, but when I got closer I saw that it was leaking from the bottom and then I noticed the break lines. My husband and I completely wrapped the jar in paper towels, then, carefully, lowered it into a doubled plastic bag.
It is so important to be careful with canning jars. I had ensured that their was enough expansion space within the jar before I placed the beans in the freezer. There were no signs of damage to the jar before I filled it. Jars can break in a canner or freezer if this is not done.
But I have never had a canning jar break while defrosting at room temperature. I can guess that there was a micro crack in the jar and the change of temperature caused it to shatter.
When storing canned goods, home canned and store bought, it is imperative that you examine the jars and cans on a regular basis. Jars do break and can do rupture. Getting them out of the storage area quickly prevents damage to your other food products and minimizes the mess you will have to clean up.
I would love to hear from anyone that has had a similar experience.