Friday, January 11, 2008
If you were a livestock herder in the steppes* where no trees grow -- only bushes and grasses -- what would you use for fuel to boil your tea and cook your bread?
People in these regions have an efficient and ecological solution. They gather up what the animals drop behind, press it into bricks, and dry it. This yields an excellent, hot-burning fuel.
If you were translating Romans 12:20 ("…in doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head") for these people, what word would you use for "coals"?
Don't feel bad if you have never heard of a steppe. I looked it up in Wikipedia (I find that a decent source for this type of information). Here is what I discovered there:
In physical geography, a steppe (Russian: степь - [sʲtʲepʲ], Ukrainian: степ - /stɛp/, Kazakh: дала - /dɑlɑ/), pronounced in English as /stɛp/, is a plain without trees (apart from those near rivers and lakes); it is similar to a prairie, although a prairie is generally considered as being dominated by tall grasses, while short grasses are normal in the steppe. It may be semi-desert, or covered with grass or shrubs or both, depending on the season and latitude. The term is also used to denote the climate encountered in regions too dry to support a forest, but not dry enough to be a desert. The term steppe originally comes from the Russian word /stɛp/ which means a flat and arid land.
[The first photo above was photographed in August 2002 near Kharkhorin (Harhorin), Övörkhangai, Mongolia. The second one is a steppe near Kamyshin, Volgograd Oblast, Russia.]