(a' nak) HEBREW: ANAQ

A race of giants called the Anakim traced their ancestry to Anak, the son of the Canaanite Arba, founder of Kiriath-Arba (the city later known as Hebron). *Hebron, the land Caleb received for
his inheritance, is the focus of contemporary land conflict between Palestinians and Jews, and is much in the news
Anak's descendants were conquered and displaced by Caleb, one of the scouts whom Moses had sent decades earlier to spy out the land of Canaan.
Giants like the Anakim were also known as Nephilim, thought to be superhuman progeny of the sons of God and the daughters on men cited in Genesis 6:4.

{E2 Dictionary of Biblical People}


The Hebrew word "Hebron" is derived from the Hebrew word for "friend" (haver), a description for the Patriarch Abraham, who was considered to be the friend of God. The Arabic "Al- Khalil" —
literally "the friend" — has a nearly identical derivation, and also refers to the Patriarch Abraham (Ibrahim), whom Muslims similarly describe as the friend of God.

Hebron, which rises 3,050 feet (926 meters) above sea level, has a long and rich Jewish history. It was one of the first places where the Patriarch Abraham resided after his arrival in Canaan.
King David was anointed in Hebron, where he reigned for seven years.

Religious Significance
The Cave of Machpelah, or Tomb of the Patriarch
s, is the world's most ancient Jewish site and the second holiest place for the Jewish people, after the Temple Mount in
Jerusalem. The cave was purchased by Abraham as a burial place for his wife Sarah some 3,700 years ago, along with the trees and field adjoining it, the first recorded transaction of a Hebrew
buying land in Canaan (Genesis 23). Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebecca, and Leah were all later buried in the same place. These are considered the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish
people. The only one who is missing is Rachel, who was buried near Bethlehem where she died in childbirth. Muslims believe that Joseph is also buried here, though Jews think he was buried in

The building covering the cave was constructed roughly two thousand years ago by Herod. The 40-60 foot high walls are similar to those of the Temple Mount. Since Herod's time, the structure
has been used by foreign conquerors as a shrine to their own religions. Thus, the Byzantines and Crusaders transformed it into a church and the Muslims converted it a mosque. About 700
years ago, the Mamelukes conquered Hebron, declared the structure a mosque and forbade entry to Jews, who were not allowed past the seventh step on a staircase outside the building.

The tomb of Isaac (WZO)
The structure is divided into three rooms: Ohel Avraham, Ohel Yitzhak, and Ohel Ya'akov. Presently Jews have access to Ohel Yitzhak, the largest room, only 10 days a year. The tombs are all
underground. The visible parts are covered with tapestries and cenotaphs. A 700-year-old stained-glass window adorns the tomb of Jacob and Leah, which are in an adjoining courtyard
opposite the monuments to Abraham and Sarah.

Though Israel regained control of Hebron in 1967, the Cave of Machpelah has remained under the authority of the Muslim Waqf (Religious Trust), which continues to restrict Jewish access. No
visitors are allowed inside during Muslim prayer times, Fridays or Muslim holidays.

At the time of Abraham, the Canaanite town in this place was known as Kiryat Arba. The name was later changed to Hebron (Joshua 14:15). Today, Kiryat Arba is the name of a suburb of
Hebron, five minutes from the Cave of Machpelah and the heart of the city. Established in 1971, Kiryat Arba was the first renewed Jewish community in Judea and Samaria. Today, Kiryat Arba
is home to more than 6,000 Jews who have a reputation for being among the most zealous defenders of the idea that Jews have a right to live in the West Bank. The town has educational
institutions from pre-nursery school through post-High school, modern medical facilities, shopping centers, a bank and post office.

Israel's Wars with the Giants (Cont.)
Before the Israelites renamed it Hebron, the Anakim called it Kiriath Arba, or City of Arba, in honor of their forefather, Arba. He was a great hero of the Anakim.112 In time, Arba's overgrown
children grew so numerous that they were able to possess much of southern Canaan. These giants divided into three clans. They were ruled from Hebron by Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai,
descendants of Arba,113 but Hebron also had its own king (Joshua 10:37).

Standing 3,040 feet above sea level, this fortified city overlooked a shallow, fertile valley surrounded by rising hills. Through it ran the main highway connecting Jerusalem and parts farther
north with Egypt, the Negeb, and the coastland. Joshua therefore viewed Hebron's capture as having both a strategic and a morale-breaking importance; strategic because it was the most
southerly road-crossing center of the highland system; and morale-breaking because, as the principal mountain stronghold of the Anakim, its downfall would further demoralize the natives. At
Joshua's command, the Israelites stormed Hebron, drove out Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, slew its king, and put all its huge occupants who could not escape to the sword.

Following the battle at Hebron, the invaders struck out across the Negeb toward Debir (modern Dhaheriyeh). It stood as a frontier town between the hill country and the Negeb, some eleven
miles southwest of Hebron. Excavators say it rivalled Jericho in size. And in earlier times it apparently had been a seat of an old Canaanite culture, for it was known both as Kiriath Sepher ("City
of Books") and Kiriath Sanna ("City of the Scribes"). In Joshua's day, however, many Anakim giants occupied the city. Here no trees grew, so Debir, being located on a higher elevation than the
surrounding bald hills, became visible to Israel's marching legions from a long way off.

John Garstang says the protecting walls that confronted the Hebrews here "were for the most part about ten feet thick, but attained in places to as much as thirteen feet, and these were further
strengthened on the outside, in characteristic fashion, by a sloping revetment of stonework. In detail of construction this masonry was less massive than the contemporary work of Shechem or
Hattin, but is comparable with much of that of Jericho."114 In his excavations, the archaeologist also found clear evidence of a time when Debir thrived as a center for culture and learning--until
its overthrow by the Hyksos from Egypt about 1550 B.C. But when the city was rebuilt, he writes, it "showed indications of relative poverty: the houses were poorly built and departed by open
spaces containing grain pits. In this period the derelict fortifications of the earlier period were restored, and the east gate was entirely rebuilt, on the same general plan."115

When this fortress-city of the giants fell to them, the Hebrews slew its king and all who were unable to escape. Garstang mentions mat the ruins at Debir yielded evidence of an overthrow like
what he saw at Jericho. "The destruction of the city (at Level C)," he adds, "was accompanied by a terrific conflagration, and by the complete demolition of the fortifications." 116

After this great slaughter, the Hebrews marched on Anab. In earlier times, another people occupied this city. But the Anakim giants assailed it, wiped out its inhabitants, and made it their
possession. Anab, the name of which still survives today as Khirbet Anab, stood amid the Judean hills, only a short distance from Debir. After breaching its walls, Israel's legions totally
demolished the city and put to death all its giants. After this, the Hebrews likely cleared a number of giants out of the "Valley of the Rephaim" southwest of Jerusalem.117 Also about this time
they probably slaughtered the remnant of the monstrous Awim, who lived at nearby Avvim. Then they captured Jerusalem, or at least that part of it that was known as the "lower city." Despite
their greatest efforts, however, they were unable to dislodge the Jebusites from the "upper city." These few but determined people occupied the narrow plateau of Mt. Ophel, just southeast of
Jerusalem. Bounded by the Kidron, Tyropoeon, and Zedek Valleys, Jebus encompassed no more than eleven or twelve acres. But because of its bold rock escarpments, the small city stood as
an impregnable bastion, and "not to be taken without great difficulty, through the strength of its walls, and the nature of the place."118 And, indeed, it was not taken until some four centuries
later, in the time of David. When Joshua attacked it, some Horim giants supposedly lived among the Jebusites.119

Except for several pockets of resistance, like this one at Jebus, much of southern Canaan now belonged to the Hebrews.120 So Joshua ordered his legions to invade the north country. We
have no way of knowing how many giants the Hebrews fought in these latter campaigns, for Joshua, who kept careful records of his battles against the Anakim in the south, now devoted much
less time to the chores of journal-keeping. Concerning the northern giants, he penned the briefest summary, noting only that the Anakim occupied "all the hill country of Israel,"121 meaning all
the territory later allotted to the ten northern tribes. He also barely mentions the Rephaim--and then only in connection with a complaint by Ephraim and the half-tribe of Manasseh. That
complaint came after the tribes had received their land allotments. Feeling that they had not gotten a fair shake, the sons of Joseph grumbled that their allotment was not sufficient for their
great numbers. So Joshua told them: "If you are so numerous, and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourself there in the land of the
Perizzites and of Rephaites."122 The Perizzites, whom some scholars also identify with the giant Horim,123 lived in the vicinity of Shechem. A large clan of the Rephaim occupied a territory just
north of them, with their settlements extending perhaps as far as the Valley of Jezreel. The children of Joseph apparently took Moses' advice and destroyed or drove out all these giants, for
afterward they occupied that land.

Against the northern cities Joshua waged war a long time. But while they were thus occupied with the conquest of upper Canaan, and bent upon cleansing it of the giants, the Anakim who had
escaped the Israelites' swords during their earlier sieges in the south later returned and reoccupied Hebron and Debir, cities that were assigned to Caleb. Consequently, after the land was
divided by lot among Israel's twelve tribes, some men of Judah, with Caleb at their head, returned to the south country and again came against these places.

An account of Caleb's renewed campaign against the giants who reoccupied Hebron appears in Josephus histories. After telling what great difficulty the people of Judah faced in their long
siege against Jebus, or upper Jerusalem, he relates that they removed their camp to Hebron to assist Caleb against the Gibborim there. "And when they had taken it," he adds, "they slew all
the inhabitants. There were till then left a race of giants, who had bodies so large, and countenances so entirely different from other men, that they were surprising to the sight, and terrible to
the hearing. The bones of these men are still shown to this very day, unlike to any credible relations of other men."124

After retaking Hebron, Caleb proceeded southward to the re-occupied Debir (i.e., Kiriath Sepher). Upon reaching that place, he said to his chief men: "I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage
to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher."125 Quick to volunteer, Othniel, a son of Caleb's younger brother, advanced with his men into the city, slew all its defiant giants, and
retook it. So Caleb gave his daughter Acsah to him in marriage.

With Caleb's recapture of Hebron and Debir, Israel's seven-year campaign against the giants and Canaan's other inhabitants came to an end. Their many victories put the Hebrews in control of
much of the country and broke the once awesome military power of its people.126 But the legions of Israel failed to exterminate or drive all the other pagan trespassers off God's land, as they
had been commanded. Even a few cities remained untaken.127 Had they done as well in dispossessing all the other Canaanites as they had the giants, later Hebrew history may have followed
a much different and less tragic course. But after seven long years of intense fighting and much gore, the Hebrews grew weary of war. So, assenting to their plea, Joshua gave them rest from

Even though these few places of resistance remained throughout the country, Israel's men of war had at least accomplished their major objective--to cleanse God's land of the Gibborim. That
this cleansing was complete we learn from our chronicler. In his final summary of the campaign, he wrote: "Then Joshua came at that time and cut off the Anakim from the hill country, from
Hebron, from Debir, from Anab and from all the hill country of Judah and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua utterly destroyed them with their cities. There were no Anakim left in the land of
the sons of Israel; only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod some remained."128 But these giants who survived Joshua's campaigns and fled to the Philistines on the coast, or to Africa and other
countries, were so few that they never again posed a serious threat to the children of Israel. (See Abraham and the Giants; Canaan's Anakim; David vs Goliath Jericho's Giants; Sihon's and
Og's Overthrow)
Mary Sutherland is the author of the following books
  • Living in the Light: Believe in the Magic
  • Mysteries: Exploring the Mysteries of Burlington and Southeastern Wisconsin
  • Revelations: Truths Revealed
  • In Search of Ancient Man: Lost in Time
  • The Red Haired Giants
  • Haunted Burlington Wisconsin

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