Who are the descendants of Anak?
The book of Numbers, chapter 13, describes the events of the people of Israel, spying out Canaan, which God had given them as an eternal inheritance. The twelve spies saw the sons of Anak, who were giant men of great size.
“When they had gone up into the Negev, they came to Hebron where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) So they gave to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, ‘The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.’” (Numbers 13:22, 32-33)(NASB)
Anak is the son of Arba, the greatest man among the Anakim (Joshua 14:15). The Anakims were men of great size whom Caleb had driven out from Hebron.
“Now he gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh a portion among the sons of Judah, according to the command of the Lord to Joshua, namely, Kiriath-arba, Arba being the father of Anak (that is, Hebron). Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak: Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the children of Anak.” (Joshua 15:13-14)(NASB)
Apparently, the Anakims were not the only ones on the earth. In Hebrew there are four words used for the word “giant”. One of these words appears in the book of Job 16:14 and means a mighty man, a warrior. Another Hebrew word is translated as “giants” or “Nephilim”. This word is used for a group or race of people whose physical stature was unusually great compared to other people. In the passage below in the Romanian translation we have two words that refer to the same group of men, giants and valiants. Both giant and valiant in Hebrew is “nefilies”.
“The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.” (Genesis 6:4)(NASB)
The same word used in Genesis 6. “Nephilim” is also used in Numbers 13:33, the passage I mentioned above. Nephilims are identified with the Anakim, the Rephaim and Zamzummim (Deut. 2:20).
“(It is also regarded as the land of the Rephaim, for Rephaim formerly lived in it, but the Ammonites call them Zamzummin, a people as great, numerous, and tall as the Anakim, but the Lord destroyed them before them. And they dispossessed them and settled in their place.” (Deuteronomy 2:20-21)(NASB)
These giants were the inhabitants of Palestine who were conquered by the Canaanites, the Philistines, and later by the Jews. The Bible does not tell us the origin of the Nephilim or the end of their genealogical line. Anak’s descendants may still exist today by having crossed with other peoples. One of the most famous giants is Goliath from Gath, the Philistine soldier who provoked the army of King Saul in the valley of the Elah (1 Sam. 17). Goliath had a height of 6 cubits and a palm which is between 2.5 m and 3 m. Goliath is not the only giant mentioned in the biblical literature. King Og in Basan (Deut. 3:9-11) was also a giant:
“Sidonians call Hermon Sirion, and the Amorites call it Senir): all the cities of the plateau and all Gilead and all Bashan, as far as Salecah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan. (For only Og king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. Behold, his bedstead was an iron bedstead; it is in Rabbah of the sons of Ammon. Its length was nine cubits and its width four cubits by ordinary cubit.” (Deuteronomy 3:9-11)(NASB)
Goliath’s brother was also a giant along with another person whose name is not mentioned.
“And there was war with the Philistines again, and Elhanan the son of Jair killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. Again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature who had twenty-four fingers and toes, six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot; and he also was descended from the giants. When he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him. These were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.” (1 Chronicles 20:5-8)(NASB)
In conclusion, we can say that these two peoples, Anakim and Rephaim, are of unknown origin. There are more opinions in the theological world. To study these views, I recommend you read the article “Who were the Nephilim?” Written by Bodie Hodge.
Translated by Elizaveta Bîrlădeanu