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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Parshat Trumah: Are You Sure About That Tree?

Here are pictures I took of the עֲצֵי שִׁטִּים acacia-wood during my recent trip to Eilat.

Exodus XXVI
י וְעָשׂוּ אֲרוֹן, עֲצֵי שִׁטִּים: אַמָּתַיִם וָחֵצִי אָרְכּוֹ, וְאַמָּה וָחֵצִי רָחְבּוֹ, וְאַמָּה וָחֵצִי, קֹמָתוֹ. 10 And they shall make an ark of acacia-wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.

The tour guide pointed this out to us. This is the tree which in Hebrew has the name used in the Bible for those large planks of wood needed to build the Mishkan, Tabernacle.

עֲצֵי שִׁטִּים acacia trees are thin desert trees.

Out of Israel, the translation is of ceder trees, which are massive enough to construct large planks, but the Bible is in Hebrew, and that's the tree...

I'm no botany expert. Does anybody know more?


Anonymous said...

Torah Flora: Timber for the Tabernacle today

Hadassa DeYoung said...

Rav Aryeh Kaplan's commentary, "The Living Torah" agrees with "Torah Flora" and while is not nearly as informative, gives a few more Talmudic references. Being as "The Living Torah" is a printed book and therefore may be read on Shabbat, I would recommend having a copy on hand so that you don't have to wait until after havdala to look for answers to such questions. The Internet isn't good for everything...
Hadassa DeYoung, K'far Darom/Elon Moreh

Batya said...

Thank you both!
Shy and Hadassa, is it true that you actually agree? Wow!

I based the post on what the tour guide told us, being rather botanically challenged. They didn't teach us this stuff in Girl Scout Day Camp when I did my "tree badge" all those decades ago in Cunningham Park, Queens, NY.