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Wash My Hands of It
Time-length-icon 4m 14s
Publish-date-icon October 4, 2007
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For those of you who listened to my previous podcast "up in the air" I did not make it to Beijing as I had planned. My plane developed electrical problems and the pilot had to return to Chicago.

This lesson is about the idiom to "wash my hands of it." It basically means that someone is not going to spend anymore time or energy trying to change the direction someone else is going or trying to reverse a decision they have made. This idiom is like saying "I tried to convince you not to do this but you did it anyway. Therefore, do not hold me responsible for the results!"

Suppose a salesman has tried to convince a customer that a cheaper product from a competitor will not meet their needs. After several attempts to make this point without success, the salesman may then remark to a co-worker that he is going to "wash my hands of it" as a way of saying "I tried to help them but they didn't listen. When their project fails don't blame me!"

This idiom has a Biblical origin from Matthew 27:12-24 in which the Jewish leaders brought Jesus before Pilate to get the Roman governor to sentence Jesus to death. Pilate did not think Jesus did anything to deserve execution but he gave into the pressure anyway, gave the execution order, and then claimed he was not responsible. (See http://bibleresources.bible.com ).

Passage Matthew 27:12-24:

12When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13Then Pilate asked him, "Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?" 14But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.

15Now it was the governor's custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" 18For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.

19While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him."

20But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

21"Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor.
"Barabbas," they answered.

22"What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked.
They all answered, "Crucify him!"

23"Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!"

24When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!"

I've noticed that many people are getting this podcast from RSS feeds or podcast services such as iTunes. If you are doing this, I would appreciate it if you would let me know if you are getting benefit from this podcast. For example, you can post a comment on my blog at http://philsenglish.spaces.live.com/ . You can shoot me an email at phils_english@hotmail.com . You can go to iTunes and post a favorable review.

Thanks for listening and I hope you've learned something.

Copyright 2007 - Philip Hartman - All rights reserved.

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