Wisdom and Folly
As dead flies bring a stench to the perfumer’s oil,
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
A wise man’s heart inclines to the right,
but the heart of a fool to the left.
Even as the fool walks along the road, his sense is lacking,
and he shows everyone that he is a fool.
If the ruler’s temper flares against you, do not abandon your post,
for calmness lays great offenses to rest.
There is an evil I have seen under the sun
an error that proceeds from the ruler:
Folly is appointed to great heights,
but the rich sit in lowly positions.
I have seen slaves on horseback,
while princes go on foot like slaves.
He who digs a pit may fall into it,
and he who breaches a wall may be bitten by a snake.
The one who quarries stones may be injured by them,
and he who splits logs endangers himself.
10 If the axe is dull and the blade unsharpened,
more strength must be exerted,
but skill produces success.
11 If the snake bites before it is charmed,
there is no profit for the charmer.
12 The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious,
but the lips of a fool consume him.
13 The beginning of his talk is folly,
and the end of his speech is evil madness.
14 Yet the fool multiplies words.
No one knows what is coming,
and who can tell him what will come after him?
15 The toil of a fool wearies him,
for he does not know the way to the city.
16 Woe to you, O land whose king is a youth,*
and whose princes feast in the morning.
17 Blessed are you, O land whose king is a son of nobles,
and whose princes feast at the proper time
for strength and not for drunkenness.
18 Through laziness the roof caves in,
and in the hands of the idle, the house leaks.
19 A feast is prepared for laughter, and wine makes life merry,
but money is the answer for everything.
20 Do not curse the king even in your thoughts,
or curse the rich even in your bedroom,
for a bird of the air may carry your words,
and a winged creature may report your speech.
* 10:16 Or a servant