More war and more sacrifice and commitment were required. Joshua marched Israel once more to war against the Anakim and their loyal hybrids. In previous campaigns, refugee Anakim fled to mountain regions for protection in the south, hoping to avoid annihilation, and to regroup for future wars. The mountain and southern campaign would be waged in two parts: first with Joshua and later, when Joshua died, by Caleb.
Joshua maneuvered his forces to flush out the refugees burrowed into the mountains. Joshua deployed his forces “to cut off the Anakim dwelling in the mountains, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab.” “Cut off/karath is defined as to destroy, consume, cut down, and make a covenant with.” Joshua did not march into the dangerous mountain regions to negotiate a treaty or an alliance, but to utterly destroy the remnant of the Anakim giants and their forces, where they still flourished. Joshua then “destroyed them utterly with their cities.” Very little was recorded on this campaign, but we can extract important information and context from the cities that were named: Hebron, Debir, and Anab.
The Anakim had returned to Hebron/Kiriatharba, the city of the Anakim patriarch, likely after regrouping in the mountains and due to the lack of Israelite presence with Joshua’s multi-year preoccupation in the northern campaign. One further deduces from passages documented later in Scripture that the Anakim for a time, persistently and resiliently, returned to the Hebron region. At the end of Joshua’s life and after the conquest ended, Joshua awarded Caleb the Hebron region, but Caleb still had to drive out Anakim in that region, which he did. The Anakim included the three kings first mentioned by Moses’ scouts so many years before: Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai. Caleb drove out the Anakim and the three Anakim kings, but did not slay them at that time.