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The Folly of a Simpleminded Fool

10 Dead flies make a (A)perfumer’s oil stink, so a little simpleminded folly is weightier than wisdom and honor. A wise man’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish (B)man’s heart directs him toward the left. Even when the simpleminded fool walks along the road, his heart lacks wisdom, and he (C)says to all that he is a simpleminded fool. If the ruler’s [a]temper rises against you, (D)do not abandon your position, because (E)calmness causes great offenses to be abandoned.

There is an evil I have seen under the sun, like a mistake which goes forth from the one in power— [b](F)folly is set in many exalted places while rich men sit in humble places. I have seen (G)slaves riding (H)on horses and princes walking like slaves on the land.

(I)He who digs a pit may fall into it, and a (J)serpent may bite him who breaks through a wall. He who quarries stones may be hurt by them, and he who splits logs may be endangered by them. 10 If the [c]axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must [d]exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success. 11 If the serpent bites [e](K)before being charmed, there is no advantage for the charmer. 12 (L)Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, but the lips of a (M)fool swallow him up; 13 the beginning of the words of his mouth is simpleminded folly, and the end of what comes from his mouth is evil (N)madness. 14 Yet the (O)simpleminded fool multiplies words. No man knows what will happen, and who can tell him (P)what will come after him? 15 The labor of [f]a fool so wearies him that he does not even know how to go to a city. 16 Woe to you, O land, whose (Q)king is a young man and whose princes [g]eat in the morning. 17 Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility and whose princes eat at the appropriate time—for might and not for (R)drinking. 18 Through (S)indolence the beams sag, and through slack hands the house leaks. 19 Men prepare bread for laughter, and (T)wine makes life glad, and (U)money [h]is the answer to everything. 20 Furthermore, (V)in your bedchamber do not (W)curse a king, and in your sleeping rooms do not curse a rich man, for a bird of the sky will bring the sound and the winged creature will tell the matter.


  1. Ecclesiastes 10:4 Lit spirit
  2. Ecclesiastes 10:6 Or simpleminded folly, cf. Eccl 1:17; 2:3, 12, 13; 10:1, 13
  3. Ecclesiastes 10:10 Lit iron
  4. Ecclesiastes 10:10 Lit strengthen
  5. Ecclesiastes 10:11 Lit without enchantment
  6. Ecclesiastes 10:15 Lit fools
  7. Ecclesiastes 10:16 Or feast
  8. Ecclesiastes 10:19 Lit answers all