your hands are full of blood

The Hebrew that is translated as “your hands are full of blood” in English is translated in K’iche’ as “your hands are covered with blood form killing people.”

Robert Bascom (in Omanson 2001, p. 255) explains: “A difficult metaphor to translate into some languages is ‘your hands are full of blood,’ which refers to God’s rejection of the sacrifices due to the blood covering the hands of the priests. It was not clear to the translators of the K’iche’ Bible in Guatemala what kind of blood this was. Animal blood from the sacrifices? Had the priests been messy, getting blood all over their hands, and thus God had rejected their sacrifices? When the translators were told that this was human blood, the reason for it being on the priests’ hands was still not clear to them. Had they been bandaging wounded people? Again, was there something unclean about this which made God upset with their sacrifices? What made this image more difficult was that it was a play on images even in Hebrew. ‘Hands covered with blood’ is a common enough metaphor for murder in the Bible, but of course the priests would have literally bloody hands from sacrificing. It would be nice to preserve the play on images, but if that is not possible, the best solution is to specify ‘hands covered with blood… from killing people.’”