Dead flies can make perfumed oil smell bad. Likewise a little foolishness outweighs great wisdom and honor. The mind of the wise person chooses the right side, but the mind of the fool goes left! Just the way that fools walk down the road shows they have no sense, making clear to everyone their stupidity. If your superior gets angry with you, don't give up and leave. If you stay calm even bad mistakes can be resolved. I also realized there's another evil here on earth: rulers make a big mistake when they put fools in high positions, while those who are richly qualified* are put in low positions. I've seen slaves riding on horseback, while princes walk on the ground like slaves.
If you dig a pit, you could fall in. If you knock down a wall, you could be bitten by a snake. If you quarry stone, you could be injured. If you split logs, you could be hurt. 10 If your ax is blunt and you don't sharpen it, you have to use a lot more force. Conclusion:§ being wise brings good results. 11 If the snake bites the snake charmer before it's charmed, there's no benefit to the snake charmer! 12 Wise words are beneficial, but fools destroy themselves by what they say. 13 Fools begin by saying foolish things, and end up talking evil nonsense. 14 Fools talk on and on, however no one knows what's going to happen, so who can say what the future holds?* 15 Work makes fools so worn out they can't achieve anything.
16 You're in trouble if the king of your country is young, and if your leaders are busy feasting from early morning. 17 You're fortunate if your king comes from a noble family, and your leaders feast at the proper time to give themselves energy, and not to get drunk.
18 Lazy people let their roofs collapse; idle people don't repair their leaky houses. 19 A good meal brings pleasure; wine makes life pleasant; money provides for all needs. 20 Don't talk badly about the king, not even in your thoughts. Don't talk badly about leaders, even in the privacy of your bedroom. A bird may hear what you say and fly away to tell them.
* 10:6 “Richly qualified”: literally simply “the rich,” but surely more is in view here than simply accumulated wealth. 10:7 In that society, it would have been very unlikely that slaves, often captured enemies, would have ever ridden on horseback. In contrast the image of princes being forced to walk is to show a loss of their dignity. 10:9 Or “cut down trees.” § 10:10 Implied. * 10:14 See 8:7. 10:15 “They can't achieve anything”: literally, “can't find their way to town,” a colloquial expression meaning that people become confused so they are not successful. 10:20 “Leaders”: literally, “the rich.”