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According to the Mefarshim, the source for the woods for the Mishkan was the Cedar trees that Yakov planted in his way to Egypt. According to the size of the woods needed for the Mishkan the mefarshim says that these are Cedar tree and not Acacia. How can Cedar trees grow in desert? Moreover, they need plenty of water. If you say that it was a miracle, so it is known that you can't trust on a miracle (אין סומכים על הנס). So why did Yakov decide to take the chance and plant them and how did they actually grow in desert?

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  • Whoever wrote the Heb. Wikipedia entry on shitta disagrees with your cedar identification, per other sources. The acacia has been found to grow in hot areas such as the Negev and in Egypt (but a reminder - the Nile area is very fertile). What are your sources?
    – Harel13
    Jan 7 at 13:55
  • Even if we don't rely on miracles, it doesn't hurt to plant them. If they die they die and we're no worse off than if he hadn't planted them in the first place.
    – Heshy
    Jan 7 at 14:11
  • "The meforshim" is a dangerous idiom. It usually means someone took sides in a machloqes. We are talking of dozens of voices over the course of centuries. If a topic requires something said about it, it is very unlikely there is a consensus opinion. Jan 7 at 14:25
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    There is evidence that the Sinai and Negev was less arid a few thousand years ago than it is today. Still a wilderness and a desert, but less dry.
    – Mike
    Jan 9 at 5:22
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As pointed out in the comments, the identification of the tree is debated. However, as Prof. Zohar Amar, who specializes in the natural history of ancient times, and in particular, the identification of plants and animals in traditional Jewish sources, pointed out in this blog post, the most common identification is that which was first suggest by Rasag, the acacia. Prof. Amar thought that the subspecies brought out of Egypt by Bnei Yisrael was either A. nilotica, which grows near the Nile, or A. albida, which grows in northern Israel, thus fitting this tradition about the origins of the shittim used for the Tabernacle.

As the acacia is a tree that can grow in desert areas, then we can understand the Yaakov was not expecting a miracle. Moreover, if the particular variant was the Nile variant, then all the more so - they were trees befitting Egypt.

Perhaps you were basing yourself on this gemara that says that the shitta and other trees are considered cedars (ארזים)? I think the simple understanding is that the gemara meant that all of these trees can be classified as types of cedar within a certain context, but that doesn't mean that all of these trees are actually cedars (and see here). I think it would be difficult to imagine myrtle as literally a type of cedar, for example...

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