1As dead flies give perfume a bad smell,
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honour.
2The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
but the heart of the fool to the left.
3Even as fools walk along the road,
they lack sense
and show everyone how stupid they are.
4If a ruler’s anger rises against you,
do not leave your post;
calmness can lay great offences to rest.
5There is an evil I have seen under the sun,
the sort of error that arises from a ruler:
6fools are put in many high positions,
while the rich occupy the low ones.
7I have seen slaves on horseback,
while princes go on foot like slaves.
8Whoever digs a pit may fall into it;
whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake.
9Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them;
whoever splits logs may be endangered by them.
10If the axe is dull
and its edge unsharpened,
more strength is needed,
but skill will bring success.
11If a snake bites before it is charmed,
the charmer receives no fee.
12Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious,
but fools are consumed by their own lips.
13At the beginning their words are folly;
at the end they are wicked madness –
14and fools multiply words.
No-one knows what is coming –
who can tell someone else what will happen after them?
15The toil of fools wearies them;
they do not know the way to town.
16Woe to the land whose king was a servant#10:16 Or king is a child
and whose princes feast in the morning.
17Blessed is the land whose king is of noble birth
and whose princes eat at a proper time –
for strength and not for drunkenness.
18Through laziness, the rafters sag;
because of idle hands, the house leaks.
19A feast is made for laughter,
wine makes life merry,
and money is the answer for everything.
20Do not revile the king even in your thoughts,
or curse the rich in your bedroom,
because a bird in the sky may carry your words,
and a bird on the wing may report what you say.