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Ecclesiastes 10:1-12:14; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15; Psalms 49:1-20; Proverbs 22:20-21 (Complete Jewish Bible)

Ecclesiastes 10-12

10 Just as dead flies make perfumed oil stink,
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.

A wise man’s heart leads him rightly,
but a fool’s heart leads him astray;
and when a fool travels, he has no good sense,
thus showing everyone that he is a fool.

If a ruler gets angry at you, stay at your post,
because calmness soothes great offenses.

Another evil I have seen under the sun,
the kind of mistake rulers make, is that
fools are promoted to high positions,
while the rich occupy humble places.
I have seen servants riding horses,
while princes walk on foot like slaves.

He who digs a pit may fall into it;
he who breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake.
He who quarries stones may get hurt by them,
he who chops wood puts himself in danger.
10 If the [hatchet’s] iron [blade] is blunt,
and [its user] doesn’t sharpen it,
he will have to exert more effort;
but the expert has the advantage of his skill.
11 If a snake bites before it is charmed,
the snake-charmer has no advantage.
12 The words spoken by the wise bring them favor,
but the lips of a fool swallow him up.
13 What he says starts with foolishness
and ends with wicked madness.
14 A fool keeps talking and talking,
yet no one knows what the future will bring —
can anyone tell a person
what will happen after he’s gone?
15 The efforts of a fool wear him out;
he doesn’t even know the way to town!

16 Woe to you, land, when your king is a child,
and your leaders start their parties in the morning!
17 Happy are you, land, when your king is well-born,
and your princes eat at the proper time,
in order to stay strong, not to get drunk!
18 When the owner is lazy, the roof sags;
when hands are idle, the house leaks.
19 Parties are made for having a good time,
wine adds cheer to life,
and money has an answer for everything.
20 Don’t insult the king, not even in your thoughts;
and don’t insult the wealthy, not even in your bedroom;
for a bird in the air might carry the news,
a creature with wings might repeat what you said.

11 Send your resources out over the seas;
eventually you will reap a return.
Divide your merchandise into seven or eight shares,
since you don’t know what disasters may come on the earth.
If the clouds are full of rain,
they empty themselves on the earth.
Whether a tree falls toward the north or the south,
the place where the tree falls is where it stays.
He who keeps watching the wind will never sow;
he who keeps looking at the clouds will never reap.
Just as you don’t know the way of the wind
or how bones grow in a pregnant woman’s womb,
so you don’t know the work of God,
the maker of everything.
In the morning, sow your seed;
and don’t slack off until evening;
for you don’t know which sowing will succeed,
this, or that, or if both will do well.
Then the light will be sweet,
and it will be a pleasure to see the sun.
For if a person lives many years,
let him take joy in them all;
yet remembering that there will be many days of darkness,
that all to come is futile.

Young person, if you spend your youth only having fun,
if you use your early years just to entertain yourself,
if you follow your heart as you live your life,
and let your eyes be your guide;
understand that for all these things
God will bring you to judgment.
10 Therefore, remove anger from your heart;
and keep from harming your body;
for neither adolescence nor youth
has any lasting value.

12 So remember your creator while you are young,
before the evil days come,
and the years approach when you will say,
“They no longer give me pleasure”;
before the sun and the light grow dim,
also the moon and the stars;
before the clouds return after the rain;
on the day when the guards of the house are trembling,
and men of courage are bent over double;
when the women stop grinding grain,
because there are so few;
when the women at the windows
can no longer see out;
when the doors to the streets are kept shut;
when the noise from the grain-mill fades;
when a person is startled by the chirp of a bird,
yet their singing is hard to hear;
when they will be afraid to go up a hill,
and terrors will stalk the way,
even though the almond tree is in bloom;
when the locust can only drag itself along,
and the caper berry has no [aphrodisiac] effect —
because the person is headed for his eternal home,
and the mourners are already gathering
in the marketplace —
before the silver cord is snapped
the bowl of gold is cracked,
the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
the pulley is broken at the cistern,
the dust returns to earth, as it was,
and the spirit returns to God, who gave it!
Pointless! Meaningless! — says Kohelet,
Nothing matters at all!

Not only was Kohelet wise, he also taught the people what he knew; also he weighed, researched and corrected many ethical sayings. 10 Kohelet worked to develop an attractive writing style, in which he expressed the truth straightforwardly. 11 The sayings of the wise are as sharp as goads, and those given by leaders of assemblies are like well-fixed nails; [in this case,] they are presented by a single shepherd. 12 In addition, my son, take heed: one can write many books — there’s no end to it; and one can study so much that it wearies the flesh.

13 Here is the final conclusion, now that you have heard everything: fear God, and keep his mitzvot; this is what being human is all about. 14 For God will bring to judgment everything we do, including every secret, whether good or bad.

[Here is the final conclusion, now that you have heard everything: fear God, and keep his mitzvot; this is what being human is all about.]

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2 Corinthians 8:1-15

Now, brothers, we must tell you about the grace God has given the congregations in Macedonia. Despite severe trials, and even though they are desperately poor, their joy has overflowed in a wealth of generosity. I tell you they have not merely given according to their means, but of their own free will they have given beyond their means. They begged and pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service for God’s people. Also, they didn’t do this in the way we had expected, but first they gave themselves to the Lord, which means, by God’s will, to us.

All this has led us to urge Titus to bring this same gracious gift to completion among you, since he has already made a beginning of it. Just as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in diligence of every kind, and in your love for us — see that you excel in this gift too. I am not issuing an order; rather, I am testing the genuineness of your love against the diligence of others. For you know how generous our Lord Yeshua the Messiah was — for your sakes he impoverished himself, even though he was rich, so that he might make you rich by means of his poverty. 10 As I say, in regard to this matter I am only giving an opinion. A year ago you were not only the first to take action but the first to want to do so. Now it would be to your advantage 11 to finish what you started, so that your eagerness in wanting to commence the project may be matched by your eagerness to complete it, as you contribute from what you have. 12 For if the eagerness to give is there, the acceptability of the gift will be measured by what you have, not by what you don’t have. 13 It is not that relief for others should cause trouble for you, but that there should be a kind of reciprocity: 14 at present your abundance can help those in need; so that when you are in need, their abundance can help you — thus there is reciprocity. 15 It is as the Tanakh says,

“He who gathered much had nothing extra,
and he who gathered little had nothing lacking.”[a]

Footnotes:

  1. 2 Corinthians 8:15 Exodus 16:18
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Psalm 49

49 (0) For the leader. A psalm of the descendants of Korach:

(1) Hear this, all you peoples!
Listen, everyone living on earth,
(2) regardless of whether low or high,
regardless of whether rich or poor!
(3) My mouth is about to speak wisdom;
my heart’s deepest thoughts will give understanding.
(4) I will listen with care to [God’s] parable,
I will set my enigma to the music of the lyre.

(5) Why should I fear when the days bring trouble,
when the evil of my pursuers surrounds me,
(6) the evil of those who rely on their wealth
and boast how rich they are?
(7) No one can ever redeem his brother
or give God a ransom for him ,
(8) because the price for him is too high
(leave the idea completely alone!)
10 (9) to have him live on eternally
and never see the pit.
11 (10) For he can see that wise men will die,
likewise the fool and the brute will perish
and leave their wealth to others.
12 (11) They think their homes will last forever,
their dwellings through all generations;
they give their own names to their estates.
13 (12) But people, even rich ones, will live only briefly;
then, like animals, they will die.
14 (13) This is the manner of life of the foolish
and those who come after, approving their words. (Selah)
15 (14) Like sheep, they are destined for Sh’ol;
death will be their shepherd.
The upright will rule them in the morning;
and their forms will waste away in Sh’ol,
until they need no dwelling.
16 (15) But God will redeem me from Sh’ol’s control,
because he will receive me. (Selah)

17 (16) Don’t be afraid when someone gets rich,
when the wealth of his family grows.
18 (17) For when he dies, he won’t take it with him;
his wealth will not go down after him.
19 (18) True, while he lived, he thought himself happy —
people praise you when you do well for yourself —
20 (19) but he will join his ancestors’ generations
and never again see light.
21 (20) People, even rich ones, can fail to grasp
that, like animals, they will die.

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Proverbs 22:20-21

20 I have written you worthwhile things
    full of good counsel and knowledge,
21 so you will know that these sayings are certainly true
    and bring back true sayings to him who sent you.

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Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

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