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10 Dead flies cause a bad smell and ruin[a] the ointment of the perfumer.
    So also a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
The heart of the wise inclines to his right,
    but the heart of the fool inclines to his left.
Even when the fool walks along the road, he lacks sense;
    he tells everyone that he is a fool.
If the anger of the ruler rises against you,
    do not leave your post,
    for calmness can undo great offenses.
There is an evil I have seen under the sun—
    it is an error that proceeds from a ruler!
The fool is set in many high places,
    but the rich sit in lowly places.
I have even seen slaves riding on horses
    and princes walking like slaves on the earth!

Accidents Happen—Even to Professionals

Whoever digs a pit will fall into it.
    Whoever breaks through a wall, a snake will bite him.
Whoever quarries[b] stones will be wounded by them.
    Whoever splits logs will be endangered by them.

Hard Work and Skill Alone Cannot Succeed—Wisdom is Necessary

10 If the ax is blunt but one does not sharpen its edge,
    he must exert more effort,[c]
but the advantage of wisdom is it brings success.
11 If the snake bites before the charming,
    the snake charmer will not succeed.[d]

The Consequences of Foolishness

12 The wise man wins favor by the words of his mouth,
    but the fool is devoured by his own lips.
13 He begins by saying what is foolish
    and ends by uttering what is wicked delusion.
14 The fool talks too much,[e]
    for no one knows what will be.
        Who can tell anyone what will happen in the future?[f]
15 The fool is so worn out by a hard day’s work
    he cannot even find his way home at night.[g]
16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is a youth
    and your princes feast in the morning.
17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is a son of nobility
    and your princes feast at the proper time—
        to gain strength and not to get drunk.
18 Through sloth the roof sinks in,
    and through idleness of hands the house leaks.
19 Feasts are held for celebration,[h]
    wine cheers the living,
        and money answers everything.
20 Do not curse the king even in your thoughts,
    and do not curse the rich even in your own bedroom,
for a bird of the sky may carry your voice;
    a winged messenger may repeat your words.


  1. Ecclesiastes 10:1 Or “spew”
  2. Ecclesiastes 10:9 Literally “breaks out”
  3. Ecclesiastes 10:10 Literally “he must be more strength”
  4. Ecclesiastes 10:11 Literally “there is no advantage to the owner of the charm”
  5. Ecclesiastes 10:14 Literally “increases words”
  6. Ecclesiastes 10:14 Literally “after him”
  7. Ecclesiastes 10:15 Or “for he knows not to go to a city”
  8. Ecclesiastes 10:19 Literally “They make bread for laughter”