Biology:Shittah tree

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Shittah tree[1] (Hebrew: שטה) or the plural "shittim" [2] was used in the Tanakh to refer to trees belonging to the genus Vachellia and the genus Faidherbia. Faidherbia albida, Vachellia seyal, Vachellia tortilis, and Vachellia gerrardii can be found growing wild in the Sinai Desert and the Jordan River Valley.

A Shittah tree
A depiction of Ark of the Covenant

In the Exodus, the ancient Israelites were commanded to use "shittah wood" to make various parts of the Tabernacle and of the Ark of the Covenant. This was most likely the Acacia seyal.[3]

"The wild acacia (Vachellia nilotica), under the name of sunt, everywhere represents the seneh, or senna, of the burning bush. A slightly different form of the tree, equally common under the name of seyal, is the ancient shittah, or, as more usually expressed in the plural form, the shittim, of which the Tabernacle was made."[4]

See also

  • Sideroxylon lanuginosum, a North American native plant sharing common names with the Biblical shittah tree
  • Xylosma maidenii, an Australian native plant known as shitum wood


  1. Isaiah 41:19
  2. Exodus 25:10 & 23, 26:15
  3. Balfour, John Hutton (1857). The Plants of the Bible. Trees and Shrubs. T. Nelson & Sons. pp. 31. 
  4. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Sinai and Palestine.

Further reading

  • Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed (1913). "acacia". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
  • Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Sinai and Palestine.
  • Exodus chapter 25, verses 10, 13, 23, and 28.

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