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They lived in the south of Canaan, in the neighborhood of Hebron (Genesis 23:2; Josh. 15:13). In the days of Abraham (Genesis 14:5-6) they inhabited the region afterwards known as Edom and Moab, east of the Jordan. They were probably a remnant of the original inhabitants of Canaan before the Canaanites, a Cushite tribe from Babel, and of the same race as the Phoenicians and the Egyptian shepherd kings.
Their formidable warlike appearance, as described by the spies sent to search the land, filled the Israelites with terror. They seem to have identified them with the Nephilim, the “giants” (Genesis 6:4; Num. 13:33) of the antediluvian age. And, indeed, there were men of very large stature among them.
There were various tribes of Anakim (Josh. 15:14). Joshua finally expelled them from the land, except a remnant that found a refuge in the cities of Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod (Josh. 11:22). The Philistine giants whom David encountered (2 Sam. 21:15-22) were descendants of the Anakim.