The giants pictured today can be grotesque creatures, with green warts and crooked teeth. These giants aren’t found in the Bible, but the Anakim are. The Anakim were the giants who descended from Anak. They may not have looked like they popped out of a fairytale, but they still caused the people of the day great fear and turmoil.

Who Were the Anakim in the Bible?

Anakim were the descendants of Anak. Joshua 15:13 states “Arba was the forefather of Anak.” Kiriath Arba, also known as Hebron, was located in Judah and part of the Land of Canaan. Easton’s Bible Dictionary identifies Anakim as “a remnant of the original inhabitants of Palestine before the Canaanites, a Cushite tribe from Babel, and of the same race as the Phoenicians and the Egyptian shepherd kings.”

The Israelites were terrified of the Anakim and compared them to giants. When the Israelites arrived at the Promised Land, God told them to scout out the area. 12 spies explored the area and discovered the Anakim living there. Caleb believed the people could overtake the giants, but the other eleven men disagreed.

The spies spread bad news about the area to the other Israelites. They compared themselves to grasshoppers in the eyes of the Anakim. Joshua was on Caleb’s side. He believed the Lord would come through and help his people take the Promised Land, despite the Anakim’s size and strength.

The rest of the Israelites didn’t believe. They grumbled and complained, questioning God and his plan. Because of their unbelief, the Lord sentenced the Israelites to 40 years of wandering the desert. He declared only Caleb and Joshua would enter the Promised Land and every Israelite over the age of 20 would die in the wilderness.

What Does the Bible Say about the Anakim?

After the 40 years of wandering and the death of Moses, it was time for the Israelites’ ancestors to take the Promised Land. The Anakim, however, still remained in the area. As recorded in Numbers 14, Joshua was promised entry to the Land of Canaan after he professed his faith in God’s promise. Giants wouldn’t stop him.

Joshua and his army began defeating their enemies to take what was theirs. After many battles, the Anakim were the last people to destroy. The earthly giants could not match God’s strength. Joshua’s army overtook the giants, killing them and taking their land. The only ones remained in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. At last, the Israelites inherited the Promised Land.

A few chapters later in Joshua 14, Caleb remembers the faithfulness of God and his promise for the people to inherit the land. Even though is he is now 85 years old, he is determined to drive out the Anakim himself. The exact timeline of Caleb’s conquest is debated by scholars. One theory is Caleb defeated the Anakim under Joshua’s authority as seen in Joshua 11. The other view is that the giants returned after the original battle, and Caleb drives them out again. Either way, Caleb rids them of Hebron and receives the land as his inheritance.

Are the Anakim the Same as the Nephilim?

The first reference to Nephilim is found in Genesis 6. They are identified as the children of men of God and daughters of man. Crosswalk.com states “Christian scholars have theorized that the “sons of God” were fallen angels (demons) who reproduced with human females or possessed human males who then bore children with human females.” Some scholars believe Nephilim were giants and others think they were fallen men.

In Numbers 13 when the 12 men are surveying the Promised Land, they spot the Nephilim and identify the Anakim as their descendants. Since the spies describe themselves as grasshoppers in their eyes, we can infer that they were greater than average size. Furthermore, The Message translation calls these children “giants in the land” and ”mighty men of ancient lore, the famous ones.”

Additionally, the Anakim and Nephilim have a similar perception. While the Anakim are people that need to be driven out, the Nephilim were seen as characters that performed evil deeds. One thought is that the Nephilim were one of the many reasons for the great flood. If that is the case, then both the Anakim and Nephilim were extinguished by the great power of God: the Nephilim by nature and the Anakim through God’s favor on Caleb and Joshua.

Since the Nephilim were killed by the flood and this story takes place earlier in the Bible than the conquest of the Land of Canaan, the supernatural beings could have continued breeding with humans. Another theory is the 12 spies mistakenly labeled the giant men as Nephilim. Crosswalk.com states “It is possible that they simply observed abnormally large people in Canaan and in fear thought them to be the Nephilim.”

After reviewing Scripture, we can see that the Anakim and Nephilim are not interchangeable, but related. Both beings were large in stature and feared by the people of the day. While the Nephilim originate from demons or fallen angels, the Anakim are descendants of Anak with no direct correlation to supernatural ancestry. Both races, however, were wicked enough to be driven out by God and his people.

Why Should We Know about Anakim Today?

God wants us to believe.

When the 12 spies surveyed the land, 11 out of the 12 didn’t believe they could overtake the Anakim and claim what was theirs. Because of this, the Israelites spent 40 years wandering through the wilderness instead of crossing into the Promised Land. Only Caleb and Joshua, who believed in God’s faithfulness, were able to enter.

God wants us to believe in his faithfulness too. It may not be how we like, but He will come through. God rewarded Caleb and Joshua for their faith. He desires to bless his children. No matter what may be standing in our way, God wants us to believe he is more powerful and through his strength, we can overcome.

God is bigger than our giants.

We have our own giants: health scares, financial situations, family turmoil. Tough situations can seem bigger than God, but they’re not. Jesus conquered death. He can certainly overcome any earthly giants we may face.

With God’s help, Joshua and Caleb overthrew the Anakim because that was his plan. God can make anything happen, even sending our towering giants to their knees. Our situations may not work out how we want them to, but God is still in control. He’s got the whole world, including our giants, in his hands.

God can use anyone.

Caleb was 85 years old when we took on the Anakim. In Joshua 14:11, he says “I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.” Caleb doesn’t let his age stop him. He doesn’t let the fact that he’s been wandering the desert with grumbling Israelites for forty years stop him. He is ready to fight for God and his people.

God can use us too, whatever age or state we might find ourselves in. Maybe we feel too young or too old to be used by God. That’s Satan talking. Maybe we feel too dried up after walking through our wilderness. We don’t feel like we’re the man or woman for the job. More lies.

God’s promises are for anyone. If you know if the depth of your heart God is calling you to something, more forward, go onward in the name of Christ. You’re not alone. God was with Caleb and Joshua when he called them to overtake the Anakim giants, and he will be with you in whatever mission he’s placed on your heart.

The Anakim were warrior-like giants who roamed the earth. They caused fear and stopped the Israelites from taking what was theirs. The Anakim lived in the times of the Old Testament, but we have “giants” prowling the earth today. They may not look like walking, breathing grotesque creatures, but they’re very much alive.

God enabled Caleb and Joshua to face the Anakim, and he prepares us to stand up to ours. God is bigger than anything we may face and comes alongside us to fight our battles. The Israelites’ ancestors eventually inherited the Promised Land, and God has promises waiting for us. We need to stand tall, believe in the faithfulness of God, and move forward with God’s strength covering us every step of the way.

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Jenna Brooke CarlsonJenna Brooke Carlson is an elementary dual language teacher in the Chicago suburbs. As a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers, she enjoys spending time with other writers and perfecting her craft. She recently signed a contract for her first young adult novel, A Big Hot Mess, with Elk Lake Publishing. Along with writing, she’s pursuing her dreams of creating a community of brave young women, who she can encourage to live out their dreams amid challenges and imperfection. Her days are busy, but she’s determined she can conquer anything with a fuzzy blanket and a hot cup of tea. To find out more about Jenna, visit her website at jennabrookecarlson.com.