Acacia, (genus Acacia), genus of about 160 species of trees and shrubs in the pea family (Fabaceae). Acacias are native to tropical and subtropical regions of the world, particularly Australia (where they are called wattles) and Africa, where they are well-known landmarks on the veld and savanna.
Several acacia species are important economically. Gum acacia (Acacia senegal), native to the Sudan region in Africa, yields true gum arabic, a substance used in adhesives, pharmaceuticals, inks, confections, and other products. The bark of most acacias is rich in tannin, which is used in tanning and in dyes, inks, pharmaceuticals, and other products. Several Australian acacias are valuable sources of tannin, among them the golden wattle (A. pycnantha), the green wattle (A. decurrens), and the silver wattle (A. dealbata). A few species produce valuable timber, among them the Australian blackwood (A. melanoxylon); the yarran (A. omalophylla), also of Australia; and A. koa of Hawaii. Many of the Australian acacia species have been widely introduced elsewhere as cultivated small trees valued for their spectacular floral displays.
Cite: Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "Acacia". Encyclopedia Britannica, 05/05/2021, https://www.britannica.com/plant/acacia.
Acacia wood is often mentioned in reference to objects used in the construction of the tabernacle in the book of Exodus. Of greatest importance is its use in the construction of the Ark of the Covenant. Why acacia wood? Does it have any special significance?
From a practical standpoint, acacia trees would have been one of the only types of trees growing in the wilderness regions traveled by Israel. In addition, acacia wood is dense and extremely strong, making it a great option for any type of wooden construction.
One researcher has noted, “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.” (Source: http://ww2.odu.edu/~lmusselm/plant/bible/acacia.php)
During the construction of the tabernacle, acacia wood was one material available to the Israelites. Exodus 35:24 says, “Everyone who had acacia wood for any part of the work brought it.” Acacia wood was used for the poles of the ark, the ark itself, and many parts of the tabernacle. In fact, acacia wood is the only type of wood used in construction of aspects of the tabernacle.
The use of acacia wood resulted in materials that endured for a long time. The tabernacle was used for the next four hundred years, eventually finding a resting place within the temple in Jerusalem constructed during the reign of Solomon. The ark remained a crucial part of Jewish worship until the destruction of the temple by the Babylonians centuries later.
Some may seek to attach a spiritual power to acacia, but the Bible makes no such claims. Instead, it appears that acacia was the main tree available during the wilderness journey, and its density and strength made it ideal for a structure that would endure for generations.
As one particular species indicated in the Old Testament it is probably the Acacia Seyal-the Arabic Seyyal-which yields the well-known gum-arabic This tree, which has finely leaves ular flowers, grows to a height of twenty feet or more, and its stem may sometimes reach two feet in thickness. The tree often assumes a characteristic umbrella-like form. The wood is close-grained and is not readily attacked by insects. It would be well suited for such purposes as described, the construction of the ark of the covenant, the altar and boarding of the tabernacle. Even today these trees survive in considerable numbers around `Ain Jidy and in the valleys to the south.
(shiTTah, the shittah tree of the King James Version, Isaiah 41:19, and `atse-shiTTah, acacia wood; shittah wood the King James Version, Exodus 25:5, 10, 13, 28; ,Exodus 26:15, 26, 32, 37; 27:1, 6 Deuteronomy 10:3.): ShiTTah (= shinTah) is equivalent to the Arabic sant which is now the name of the Acacia Nilotica (NO, Leguminosae), but no doubt the name once included other species of desert acacias.