Who are the Anakites (Deuteronomy 1:28)? Why were the Israelites terrified of them? -- Stephen (Chennai, India)

Apparently the Israelites were afraid of the Anakites because they were descended from the Nephilim, the "fallen ones," whom many take to be a race of giants, though this is not certain. The Anakites, or sons of Anak, are mentioned in many of the earlier parts of the Old Testament (Numbers 13; Deuteronomy 1, 2, and 9; Joshua 11, 14, 15 and 21; and Judges 1).

As the Israelites lament in the passage you referred to, "Where can we go? Our brothers have made us lose heart. They say, 'The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.' " Why the intimidation? What is so intimidating about being descended from the Nephilim?

Ancient Jewish tradition believed the Nephilim were giants. The desert generation were familiar with their notoriety, and on seeing such overpowering men in the Promised Land, they lost heart. Their negative feelings may have been intensified because the Nephilim were thought to have been wiped out in the Flood. What sorts of people intimidate you and me? Remember this: in God's eyes, it is spiritual stature, not physical stature, that counts! (1 Samuel 2:26, 16:7; Luke 2:52)

For more on this, see Genesis, Science and History.

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