‘They shall make an ark of shittim wood’, Exod. 25. 10.
The title ‘shittim wood’ is also translated and generally understood to be the Acacia. There are several varieties which grow in the Middle East, the Acacia seyal being the most common. They are, however, different to the acacias that we might be familiar with in the United Kingdom and North America. In Isaiah chapter 41 verse 19, it is called the Shittah tree, which is a transliteration of the Hebrew, but translated ‘Acacia’ NKJV.
As our text indicates, the wood was extensively used in building the ark, as well as the table of shewbread, the altars, and the tabernacle. It is suggested that its significant usage was because of its availability in the context of the wilderness, the durable nature of the wood, and its resistance to attack by insects. In practical terms, whilst it is hard and durable, it is also light, which would enable portability of the items built with it for onward transit.
Geographically, we have references to the place of Shittim, e.g., Josh. 2. 1; 3. 1. It was the place from where Joshua sent out the two spies to assess the strength of Jericho. The children of Israel were to destroy the city as it stood in the path of their conquest of the promised land. The New King James Bible, by translating this place as Acacia Grove, suggests the reason for the name adopted by other versions.
In typical terms, shittim wood is a suitable reminder of the perfect humanity of the Lord. His impeccable character means that He is not only free from sin but also impervious to the attacks of the adversary, Luke 4. 1-13. Although it is perfectly true to say that the Lord did not sin, we must emphasize that He could not sin. He is, and ever remains, holy. We rejoice in the fact of One who was perfectly man and God. How remarkable that we can know Him as our Saviour and Lord.
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