setim-wood; shittim-wood

Repeatedly mentioned in Exodus as the principal timber employed in the construction of the Tabernacle and its appurtenances. It is the wood of the shittah-tree (Isaiah 41; cf. Arabic, sont; Egyptian, shonte), the acacia, the same word designated the A. nilotica of Egypt and the A. seyal of the desert. The seyal is a gnarled and thorny tree, flourishing in the driest situations and scattered more or less abundantly over the whole of the Sinaitic peninsula, and in the ravines which open on the Dead Sea, forming quite a characteristic feature of the desert landscape. Its wood is heavier than water, very hard and close-grained, of a fine orange-brown color with a darker heart, and admirably adapted for cabinet work; it is not attacked by insects and is well-nigh incorruptible. Highly valuable as it is, the Bedouins have for a long time used the wood of the seyal for making charcoal. It is, however, perhaps better known commercially as yielding the gum arabic of trade and medicine.

New Catholic Dictionary

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