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