10 One dead fly 1 makes the perfumer’s ointment give off a rancid stench, 2
so a little folly can outweigh 3 much wisdom. 4
2 A wise person’s good sense protects him, 5
but a fool’s lack of sense leaves him vulnerable. 6
3 Even when a fool walks along the road he lacks sense, 7
and shows 8 everyone what a fool he is. 9
4 If the anger 10 of the ruler flares up 11 against you, do not resign 12 from your position, 13
for a calm 14 response 15 can undo 16 great offenses.
5 I have seen another 17 misfortune 18 on the earth: 19
It is an error a ruler makes. 20
6 Fools 21 are placed in many positions of authority, 22
while wealthy men sit in lowly positions.
7 I have seen slaves 23 on horseback
and princes walking on foot 24 like slaves.
8 One who digs a pit may 25 fall into it,
and one who breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. 26
9 One who quarries stones may be injured by them;
one who splits logs may be endangered by them.
10 If an iron axhead 27 is blunt and a workman 28 does not sharpen 29 its edge, 30
he must exert a great deal of effort; 31
so wisdom has the advantage of giving success.
11 If the snake should bite before it is charmed, 32
the snake charmer 33 is in trouble. 34
12 The words of a wise person 35 win him 36 favor, 37
but the words 38 of a fool are self-destructive. 39
13 At the beginning his words 40 are foolish
and at the end 41 his talk 42 is wicked madness, 43
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
15 The toil of a stupid fool 46 wears him out, 47
because he does not even know the way to the city. 48
16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is childish, 49
and your princes feast in the morning!
17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobility, 50
and your princes feast at the proper time 51 – with self-control and not in drunkenness. 52
18 Because of laziness the roof 53 caves in,
and because of idle hands 54 the house leaks.
19 Feasts 55 are made 56 for laughter,
and wine makes life merry, 57
but money is the answer 58 for everything.
20 Do not curse a king even in your thoughts,
and do not curse the rich 59 while in your bedroom; 60
for a bird 61 might report what you are thinking, 62
or some winged creature 63 might repeat your 64 words. 65
11 Send 1 your grain 2 overseas, 3
for after many days you will get a return. 4
2 Divide your merchandise 5 among seven or even eight 6 investments, 7
for you do not know 8 what calamity 9 may happen on earth.
3 If the clouds are full of rain, they will empty themselves on the earth,
and whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, the tree will lie wherever it falls.
4 He who watches the wind will not sow,
and he who observes the clouds will not reap. 10
5 Just as you do not know the path 11 of the wind,
or how the bones form 12 in the womb of a pregnant woman, 13
so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.
6 Sow your seed in the morning,
and do not stop working 14 until the evening; 15
for you do not know which activity 16 will succeed 17 –
whether this one or that one, or whether both will prosper equally. 18
7 Light 19 is sweet, 20
and it is pleasant for a person 21 to see the sun. 22
8 So, if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all,
but let him remember that the days of darkness 23 will be many – all that is about to come is obscure. 24
9 Rejoice, young man, while you are young, 25
and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth.
Follow the impulses 26 of your heart and the desires 27 of your eyes,
but know that God will judge your motives and actions. 28
10 Banish 29 emotional stress 30 from your mind. 31
and put away pain 32 from your body; 33
for youth 34 and the prime of life 35 are fleeting. 36
12 So remember 1 your Creator in the days of your youth –
before 2 the difficult 3 days come,
and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”;
2 before the sun and the light 4 of the moon and the stars grow dark,
and the clouds disappear 5 after the rain;
3 when those who keep watch over the house 6 begin to tremble, 7
and the virile men begin to stoop over, 8
and the grinders 9 begin to cease because they grow few,
and those who look through the windows grow dim, 10
4 and the doors along the street are shut;
when the sound of the grinding mill 11 grows low,
and one is awakened 12 by the sound of a bird,
and all their 13 songs 14 grow faint, 15
5 and they are afraid of heights and the dangers 16 in the street;
the almond blossoms 17 grow white, 18
and the grasshopper 19 drags itself along, 20
and the caper berry 21 shrivels up 22 –
because man goes to his eternal home, 23
and the mourners go about in the streets –
6 before the silver cord is removed,
or the golden bowl is broken,
or the pitcher is shattered at the well, 24
or the water wheel 25 is broken at the cistern –
7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was,
and the life’s breath 26 returns to God who gave it.
8 “Absolutely futile!” 27 laments the Teacher, 28
“All of these things 29 are futile!” 30
9 Not only was the Teacher wise, 31
but he also taught knowledge to the people;
he carefully evaluated 32 and arranged 33 many proverbs.
10 The Teacher sought to find delightful 34 words,
and to write 35 accurately truthful sayings. 36
11 The words of the sages are like prods, 37
and the collected sayings are like firmly fixed nails;
they are given by one shepherd.
12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. 38
There is no end to the making 39 of many books,
and much study is exhausting to the body. 40
13 Having heard everything, I have reached this conclusion: 41
Fear God and keep his commandments,
because this is the whole duty 42 of man.
14 For God will evaluate every deed, 43
including every secret thing, whether good or evil.