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For other uses, see Anak (disambiguation).

Anak (/ˈˌnæk/; Heb. ʿnq spelt as both ענק and as הענק depending upon the reference) is a figure in the Hebrew Bible in the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites who, according to the Book of Numbers, was a forefather of the Anakim.[1][2]) In Deuteronomy 23:9, the Anakim are described as "strong and tall." They were also said to have been a mixed race of giant people, descendants of the Nephilim (Numbers 13:33, cf. Genesis 6:1-4). The text states that Anak was a Rephaite (Deuteronomy 2:11) and a son of Arba (Joshua 15:13). Etymologically, Anak means [long] neck.[3]

In the Bible[edit]

The sons of Anak are first mentioned in Numbers 13. The Israelite leader Moses sends twelve spies representing the twelve tribes of Israel to scout out the land of Canaan, and give a full report to the congregation. The spies enter from the Negev desert and journey northward through the Judaean hills until they arrive at the brook of Eshcol near Hebron, where reside Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai, the sons of Anak. After the scouts have explored the entire land, they bring back samples of the fruit of the land; most notably a gigantic cluster of grapes which requires two men to carry it on a pole between them. The scouts then report to Moses and the congregation, that "the land indeed is a land flowing with milk and honey," but ten of the twelve spies discourage the Israelites from even attempting to possess the land, for they reported that the men were taller and stronger than the Israelites, and moreover the sons of Anak dwell in the land, and that they felt like grasshoppers in their presence.

The Anakites are later mentioned briefly in the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Judges. Joshua, the Israelite leader and one of the twelve spies sent by Moses into Canaan, later drove out the descendants of Anak — his three sons — from Hebron, also called Kiriath Arba (Joshua 11:21).

Extrabiblical mentions[edit]

The Egyptian Execration texts of the Middle Kingdom[4] (2055-1650 BC) mention a list of political enemies in Canaan, and among this list are a group called the "ly Anaq" or people of Anaq. The three rulers of ly Anaq were Erum, Abiyamimu, and Akirum.[5]

Robert Graves, considering the relationship between the Anakites and Philistia (Joshua 11:21, Jeremiah 47:5), identifies the Anakim with Anax, the giant ruler of the Anactorians in Greek mythology.[6]

As metaphor[edit]

In Herman Melville's 1851 novel Moby-Dick (Chapter 59. Squid.) narrator Ishmael alludes to "the great Kraken of Bishop Pontoppodan," then concludes the chapter: "By some naturalists who have vaguely heard rumors of the mysterious creature, here spoken of, it is included among the class of cuttle-fish, to which, indeed, in certain external respects it would seem to belong, but only as the Anak of the tribe."[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^[permanent dead link]
  2. ^
  3. ^ Black, Matthew W. (2001). Peake's commentary on the Bible. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26355-7. 
  4. ^ Wyatt, Nicolas (2001). Space and time in the religious life of the Near East. Sheffield Academic Pr. ISBN 1-84127-288-4. 
  5. ^ Wyatt, Nicolas (2001). Space and time in the religious life of the Near East. Sheffield Academic Pr. ISBN 1-84127-288-4. 
  6. ^ "These Anakim seem to have come from Greece, as members of the Sea-peoples' confederation which caused the Egyptians so much trouble in the fourteenth century B.C." Robert Graves. The Greek Myths, 88.3. New York: 1955.
  7. ^ Moby-Dick; or The Whale