|Acacia wood is mentioned only in connection with the tabernacle
(Exodus chapters 37 and 38). The following items were made of acacia
Ark and its poles
The Table of
Showbread and its poles
Altar and its poles
Altar and its poles
All the poles for the hanging of the
curtains as well as the supports [boards].
In short, all the structural features of the tabernacle were
constructed of acacia wood.
The genus Acacia includes more than one hundred species of
trees and shrubs which are found mainly in the arid and semiarid regions
of Africa where they are ecologically the most important plants. Here
the acacia trees are often the only plants on an otherwise
monotonous terrain. Several species of acacia grow in the Sinai but not
all would be suitable for use in construction. One of the most common is
Acacia raddiana and it seems likely that this could be the
acacia referred to in the Scriptures.
These trees are conspicuous in the desert with their often slanted,
flat tops. The leaves are very small, an adaptation which helps the
plant conserve water. In times of water stress, the tree can drop its
leaves entirely. The
flowers are white and borne in dense head-like
clusters. The shape of the fruit varies in different species but in
Acacia raddiana is a coiled pod-like structure which contains
several very hard seeds.
Because of the slow growth of the tree, the wood is hard and dense.
The heartwood is dark red-brown and attractive when polished. This wood
is resistant to decay because the tree deposits in the heartwood many
waste substances which are preservatives and render the wood unpalatable
to insects making the wood dense and difficult to be penetrated by water
and other decay agents.
Recent research on the weight of the wood used in the tabernacle
system shows that solid boards would be extremely heavy. Therefore, it
has been postulated that narrow pole-like structures were used (Zevit,
Z. 1992. Timber for the tabernacle: Text, tradition, and realia. Eretz
Israel 23: 136-143.) I have not seen large specimens of these trees in
the Middle East. Perhaps such trees were present at the time of the
wanderers in Sinai.
It is interesting to note that one of the freewill offerings which
the children of Israel could bring for the tabernacle was acacia wood
(Exodus 35:24). Those presenting an offering of silver or bronze brought
it as an offering to the Lord, and everyone who had acacia wood for any
part of the work brought it.