Ecclesiastes 10

10:1 One dead fly1 makes the perfumer’s ointment give off a rancid stench,2

so a little folly can outweigh3 much wisdom.4

Wisdom Can Be Nullified By the Caprice of Rulers

10:2 A wise person’s good sense protects him,5

but a fool’s lack of sense leaves him vulnerable.6

10:3 Even when a fool walks along the road he lacks sense,7

and shows8 everyone what a fool he is.9

10:4 If the anger10 of the ruler flares up11 against you, do not resign12 from your position,13

for a calm14 response15 can undo16 great offenses.

10:5 I have seen another17 misfortune18 on the earth:19

It is an error a ruler makes.20

10:6 Fools21 are placed in many positions of authority,22

while wealthy men sit in lowly positions.

10:7 I have seen slaves23 on horseback

and princes walking on foot24 like slaves.

Wisdom is Needed to Avert Dangers in Everyday Life

10:8 One who digs a pit may25 fall into it,

and one who breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake.26

10:9 One who quarries stones may be injured by them;

one who splits logs may be endangered by them.

10:10 If an iron axhead27 is blunt and a workman28 does not sharpen29 its edge,30

he must exert a great deal of effort;31

so wisdom has the advantage of giving success.

10:11 If the snake should bite before it is charmed,32

the snake charmer33 is in trouble.34

Words and Works of Wise Men and Fools

10:12 The words of a wise person35 win him36 favor,37

but the words38 of a fool are self-destructive.39

10:13 At the beginning his words40 are foolish

and at the end41 his talk42 is wicked madness,43

10:14 yet a fool keeps on babbling.44

No one knows what will happen;

who can tell him what will happen in the future?45

10:15 The toil of a stupid fool46 wears him out,47

because he does not even know the way to the city.48

The Problem with Foolish Rulers

10:16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is childish,49

and your princes feast in the morning!

10:17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobility,50

and your princes feast at the proper time51 – with self-control and not in drunkenness.52

10:18 Because of laziness the roof53 caves in,

and because of idle hands54 the house leaks.

10:19 Feasts55 are made56 for laughter,

and wine makes life merry,57

but money is the answer58 for everything.

10:20 Do not curse a king even in your thoughts,

and do not curse the rich59 while in your bedroom;60

for a bird61 might report what you are thinking,62

or some winged creature63 might repeat your64 words.65

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