🔼The name Shittim: Summary
- From the noun שטה (shitta), which denotes the acacia tree.
🔼The name Shittim in the Bible
The name Shittim goes with a place east of the Jordan. While camped there, Israel began to "play the harlot" with the daughters of Moab, and the Baal-peor incident ensues (Numbers 25:1, Micah 6:5). Some years later, Joshua sends the twelve spies from Shittim, to review the land and especially Jericho (Joshua 2:1).
The prophet Joel mentions a Valley of Shittim (Joel 3:18) but it's not clear whether this Shittim is the same as the previous one or not. Other Scriptures mention a place called Abel-shittim (Numbers 33:49) and scholars are generally confident that Abel-shittim is the same as the Shittim of Joshua.
🔼Etymology of the name Shittim
The name Shittim is identical to the common plural form of the noun שטה (shitta), meaning acacia:
The noun שטה (shitta) denotes the acacia tree, a thorny shrub with great mythological significance in ancient Egypt. In the Bible it's mentioned most often in connection to the wood used in the tabernacle. Both the burning bush and the crown of thorns bring to mind this tree.
The verb שטה (sata) means to turn away from virtue, and specifically from fidelity in marriage. Note the similarity with the noun שטן (satan), meaning adversary.
The name Shittim means Acacias.