"An interesting and important symbol in Freemasonry. Botanically it is the Acacia vera of Tournefort, and the Mimosa nilotica of Linnaeus. It grew abundantly in the vacinity of Jarusalem, where it is still to be found, and is familiar in it's modern use as the tree from which the gum arabic of commerce is derived.
Oliver, it is true, says that "there is not the smallest trace of any tree of the kind growing so far north as Jarusalem," but this statement is refuted by the authority of Lieutenant Lynch, who saw it growing in great abundance in Jericho, and still further north. The rabbi Joseph Schwarz, who is excellent authority says: "The Acacia (Shittim) tree, Al Sunt, is found in Palestine of different varieties; it looks like the Mulberry tree, attains a great height, and has a hard wood. The gum which is obtained from it is gum arabic." Schwarz was for 16 yrs a resident of Palsetine, and wrote from personal observation. The testimony of Lynch and Schwarz should, therefore, forever settle the question of the existence of the acacia in Palestine.
The acacia, which in scripture, is always called Shittah, and in the plural, Shittim, was esteemed a sacred wood among the Hebrews. Of it Moses was ordered to make the tabernacle, the ark of the covenant, the table for the shewbread, and the rest of the sacred furniture. Isaiah, in recounting the promises of God's mercy to the Israelites on their return from the captibity, tells them that, among other things, he will plant in the wilderness, for their relief and refreshment, the cedar, the acacia (or as it is rendered in our common version, the shittah,) the fir, and other trees.
The 1st thing we notice is that it had always been consecrated from among the other trees of the forest by the sacred purposes to which it was devoted. By the Jew, the tree from whose wood the sanctuary of the tabernacle and the holy ark had been constructed would ever be more sacred than ordinary trees. The early Masons, therefore, very naturally appropriated this hollow plant to the equally sacred purpose of a symbol, which was to teach an important divine truth in all ages to come.
Having thus briefly disposed of the natural history of this plant, we may now exceed to examine it in it's symbolic relations.