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Lessons from Mourning

Better is a good reputation than precious oil
and the day of death than the day of birth.
Better to go to a house of mourning
    than to go to the house of feasting,
since that is the end of all mankind
—and the living should take it to heart.
Grief is better than laughter,
    for though the face is sad, the heart may be glad.
The heart of the wise is in a house of mourning,
    but the heart of fools is in a house of pleasure.

Wisdom Better Than Folly

Better to hear a rebuke from the wise
than to listen to the song of fools.
For like the crackling of thorns under a pot,
    so is the laughter of the fool.
This too is vapor.
For extortion drives a wise man crazy,
    and a bribe corrupts the heart.

Better the end of a matter than its beginning.
Better a patient spirit than a proud one.
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,[a]
    for anger settles in the bosom of fools.
10 Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
    For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.
11 Wisdom is as good as an inheritance,
    and even better for those who see the sun.
12 For wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter,
    but the advantage of knowledge is this:
wisdom preserves the life of the one who possesses it.

13 Consider the work of God,
    for who can straighten what He has bent?
14 In a time of prosperity, prosper!
    But in a time of adversity, consider:
God has made one as well as the other.
    Therefore man cannot discover anything about his future.

Avoid Extremes

15 During my fleeting days I have seen both of these things:
sometimes a righteous one perishes in his righteousness
and sometimes a wicked one lives long in his wickedness.
16 Do not be overly righteous
    nor overly wise—
why confound yourself?
17 Do not be overly wicked
    and do not be a fool—
why die before your time?
18 It is good to grasp the one
    and not withdraw your hand from the other.
For the one who fears God will
    escape both extremes.

19 Wisdom makes a wise man stronger
    than ten rulers in a city.

20 Surely there is not a righteous person on earth
    who does what is good and doesn’t sin.[b]

21 Also, do not pay attention to every word people say,
    otherwise you might hear your servant mocking you—
22 for your heart knows that many times
    you too have mocked others.

23 All this I have tested with wisdom and I said, “I determined to be wise”—but it was far from me. 24 Whatever it may be, it is far off and very profound—who can fathom it? 25 So I turned my heart to understand, to search and seek out wisdom and an explanation of things and to know the stupidity of wickedness and madness of folly.

26 I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare,
    whose heart is a trap, and whose hands are chains.
He who pleases God will escape her,
    but a sinner will be captured by her.

27 “Look,” said Kohelet, “I have discovered this while adding one thing to another to find the scheme of things— 28 which my soul is still seeking, but not finding—I found one upright man among a thousand, but one upright woman among them all I have not found. 29 Only this have I discovered: God made mankind upright, but they went seeking after many schemes.”