10 As dead flies give perfume a bad smell,
    so a little folly(A) outweighs wisdom and honor.
The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
    but the heart of the fool to the left.
Even as fools walk along the road,
    they lack sense
    and show everyone(B) how stupid they are.
If a ruler’s anger rises against you,
    do not leave your post;(C)
    calmness can lay great offenses to rest.(D)

There is an evil I have seen under the sun,
    the sort of error that arises from a ruler:
Fools are put in many high positions,(E)
    while the rich occupy the low ones.
I have seen slaves on horseback,
    while princes go on foot like slaves.(F)

Whoever digs a pit may fall into it;(G)
    whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake.(H)
Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them;
    whoever splits logs may be endangered by them.(I)

10 If the ax is dull
    and its edge unsharpened,
more strength is needed,
    but skill will bring success.

11 If a snake bites before it is charmed,
    the charmer receives no fee.(J)

12 Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious,(K)
    but fools are consumed by their own lips.(L)
13 At the beginning their words are folly;
    at the end they are wicked madness—
14     and fools multiply words.(M)

No one knows what is coming—
    who can tell someone else what will happen after them?(N)

15 The toil of fools wearies them;
    they do not know the way to town.

16 Woe to the land whose king was a servant[a](O)
    and whose princes feast in the morning.
17 Blessed is the land whose king is of noble birth
    and whose princes eat at a proper time—
    for strength and not for drunkenness.(P)

18 Through laziness, the rafters sag;
    because of idle hands, the house leaks.(Q)

19 A feast is made for laughter,
    wine(R) makes life merry,
    and money is the answer for everything.

20 Do not revile the king(S) even in your thoughts,
    or curse the rich in your bedroom,
because a bird in the sky may carry your words,
    and a bird on the wing may report what you say.

Footnotes

  1. Ecclesiastes 10:16 Or king is a child

10 Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.

A wise man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left.

Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool.

If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding pacifieth great offences.

There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceedeth from the ruler:

Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place.

I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.

He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.

Whoso removeth stones shall be hurt therewith; and he that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby.

10 If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.

11 Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better.

12 The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.

13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.

14 A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?

15 The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the city.

16 Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!

17 Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!

18 By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.

19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.

20 Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.

Wisdom and Folly

10 Dead[a] flies [b]putrefy the perfumer’s ointment,
And cause it to give off a foul odor;
So does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor.
A wise man’s heart is at his right hand,
But a fool’s heart at his left.
Even when a fool walks along the way,
He lacks wisdom,
(A)And he shows everyone that he is a fool.
If the spirit of the ruler rises against you,
(B)Do not leave your post;
For (C)conciliation[c] pacifies great offenses.

There is an evil I have seen under the sun,
As an error proceeding from the ruler:
(D)Folly is set in [d]great dignity,
While the rich sit in a lowly place.
I have seen servants (E)on horses,
While princes walk on the ground like servants.

(F)He who digs a pit will fall into it,
And whoever breaks through a wall will be bitten by a serpent.
He who quarries stones may be hurt by them,
And he who splits wood may be endangered by it.
10 If the ax is dull,
And one does not sharpen the edge,
Then he must use more strength;
But wisdom [e]brings success.

11 A serpent may bite (G)when it is not charmed;
The [f]babbler is no different.
12 (H)The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious,
But (I)the lips of a fool shall swallow him up;
13 The words of his mouth begin with foolishness,
And the end of his talk is raving madness.
14 (J)A fool also multiplies words.
No man knows what is to be;
Who can tell him (K)what will be after him?
15 The labor of fools wearies them,
For they do not even know how to go to the city!

16 (L)Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
And your princes feast in the morning!
17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles,
And your (M)princes feast at the proper time—
For strength and not for drunkenness!
18 Because of laziness the [g]building decays,
And (N)through idleness of hands the house leaks.
19 A feast is made for laughter,
And (O)wine makes merry;
But money answers everything.

20 (P)Do not curse the king, even in your thought;
Do not curse the rich, even in your bedroom;
For a bird of the air may carry your voice,
And a bird in flight may tell the matter.

Footnotes

  1. Ecclesiastes 10:1 Lit. Flies of death
  2. Ecclesiastes 10:1 Tg., Vg. omit putrefy
  3. Ecclesiastes 10:4 Lit. healing, health
  4. Ecclesiastes 10:6 exalted positions
  5. Ecclesiastes 10:10 Lit. is a successful advantage
  6. Ecclesiastes 10:11 Lit. master of the tongue
  7. Ecclesiastes 10:18 Lit. rafters sink

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