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Anakim

Names

  • Anakim
  • Ly Anaq – People for Anaq
  • Emites (Deuteronomy 2:11)

Notable figures

Anakim

The Anakim are a significant group mentioned in the Bible, known for their size and strength. Here’s a summary of their biblical and historical context:

Biblical References and Locations:

They are described as descendants of Anak and were inhabitants of the southern part of Canaan, near Hebron, as mentioned in Genesis and Joshua.

Genesis 14:5–6 indicates that they also lived in the region later known as Edom and Moab during Abraham’s time.

A year later King Chedorlaomer and his allies attacked and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth-Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, and the Emites in Shaveh-Kiriathaim. They also defeated the Horites in the hill country of Edom, as far as El-Paran, near the desert.

Genesis 14:5–6

Etymology:

The name “Anakim” may derive from a Hebrew root meaning “necklace” or “neck-chain,” suggesting a distinguishing physical or cultural characteristic.

Association with the Rephaites:

The Anakim are identified as a tribe of the Rephaites in Deuteronomy 2:11, a group often described as giants or mighty warriors in ancient texts.

Like the Anakites, they too were considered Rephaites, but the Moabites called them Emites.

Deuteronomy 2:11

Appearance and Perception:

The biblical narrative, particularly in Numbers 13:33, describes the Anakim as formidable and intimidating, causing fear among the Israelites. However, the accuracy of this portrayal is debated among scholars, with some suggesting that the reports were exaggerated.

We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Numbers 13:33

Connection to the Nephilim:

The Israelites associated the Anakim with the Nephilim, the giants mentioned in Genesis 6:4, indicating their perceived extraordinary size and strength.

Expulsion by Joshua:

According to the book of Joshua, they were largely expelled from their lands, with some finding refuge in Philistine cities like Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. This leads to the theory that the Philistine giants, including Goliath, were descendants of the Anakim.

Septuagint Reference:

The Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, refers to the descendants of the Anakim mourning after the destruction of Gaza in Jeremiah 47:5.

Historical Texts:

The Egyptian Execration texts from the Middle Kingdom mention a group called the “ly Anaq” or people of Anaq, with rulers named Erum, Abiyamimu, and Akirum. This could be an historical reference to the Anakim, linking them to actual historical figures or groups.

The Anakim, therefore, are an integral part of the biblical narrative, representing a formidable and mysterious people whose legacy intersected with various groups and events in the ancient Near East. Their portrayal in biblical texts reflects the cultural and mythological perceptions of the time.

Giants in the land

From this article:

The prior information sheds interesting light on Genesis 14:5-7, where Chedorlaomer “defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in their hill country of Seir,” in addition to defeating Amalekites and Amorites.

It seems Chedorlaomer fought three groups of giants—the Rephaim (the Septuagint actually translates Rephaim in Genesis 14:5 as γίγαντας, “giants”), the Zuzim (which is probably the Zamzummim of Deuteronomy 2:20), and the Emim (Deuteronomy 2:10-11).

The Amorites may also have been giants. Amos 2:9-10 says, “the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars,” and Og was also an Amorite (Deuteronomy 3:8).

What is all the more fascinating is that Abraham then went and defeated Chedorlaomer—the giant killer—in order to rescue his nephew Lot (Genesis 14:14-17). These groups, including the Amalekites, Amorites, and Anakim-Rephaim, were still in the land during the time of Joshua (Numbers 13:29, 33). Thus Abraham’s victory in Genesis 14 is a foretaste of Joshua’s later victories over the giants in the land of Canaan.

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