ChristianAnswers.Net WebBible Encyclopedia
Hebrew: rothem, called by the Arabs retem
known as Spanish broom; ranked under the genus genista
It is a desert shrub, and abounds in many parts of Palestine. In the account of his journey from Akabah to Jerusalem, Dr. Robinson says:
“This is the largest and most conspicuous shrub of these deserts, growing thickly in the water-courses and valleys. Our Arabs always selected the place of encampment, if possible, in a spot where it grew, in order to be sheltered by it at night from the wind; and during the day, when they often went on in advance of the camels, we found them not unfrequently sitting or sleeping under a bush of retem to shelter them from the sun. It was in this very desert, a day's journey from Beersheba, that the prophet Elijah lay down and slept beneath the same shrub” (1 Kings 19:4-5). It afforded material for fuel, and also in cases of extremity for human food (Ps. 120:4; Job 30:4). One of the encampments in the wilderness of Paran is called Rithmah, i.e., “place of broom” (Num. 33:18).
“The Bedawin of Sinai still burn this very plant into a charcoal which throws out the most intense heat.”