The Anakim were one of the many enemy peoples of Israel mentioned in the Old Testament. The ancestry of the Anakim was noted as being related to Anak the son of Arba (Joshua 15:13). "Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim" (Joshua 14:15).
The Anakim were apparently a tall people. Deuteronomy 2:10 notes, "The Emim formerly lived there, a people great and many, and tall as the Anakim." Deuteronomy 9:2 adds, "a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you have heard it said, 'Who can stand before the sons of Anak?'"
The Anakim were also believed to be descended from the Nephilim, a powerful group of people who lived prior to the global flood during Noah's time (Genesis 6:4). When the 12 spies of Israel investigated the Promised Land, they reported, "And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them" (Numbers 13:33).
Moses had taught the Israelites not to fear the Anakim (Deuteronomy 1:21), yet the Israelites did not listen. As a result, only Caleb and Joshua would survive from among those 20 years old or older from the time of leaving Egypt to enter the Promised Land 40 years later.
When the Israelites did enter the Promised Land, Joshua defeated the Anakim in the hill country. Caleb was mentioned as driving the Anakim out of Hebron. Afterwards, we are told, "There was none of the Anakim left in the land of the people of Israel. Only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod did some remain" (Joshua 11:22).
Since Gath was mentioned as one of the remaining places of the Anakim, many have speculated that Goliath was a descendant of these people. As a man considered over nine feet tall (1 Samuel 17:4), Goliath certainly fit the description of a "tall" man.
Second Samuel 21:15-22 mentions additional men in Rapha and Gath who were considered formidable. In part, it notes, "And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants" (2 Samuel 21:20).
The Anakim were a tall and powerful foe of the Israelites in ancient times. Yet they were ultimately defeated by God's people, fulfilling God's promises to bring them into their new land.
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