1Just as dead flies make perfumed oil stink,
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
2A wise man’s heart leads him rightly,
but a fool’s heart leads him astray;
3and when a fool travels, he has no good sense,
thus showing everyone that he is a fool.
4If a ruler gets angry at you, stay at your post,
because calmness soothes great offenses.
5Another evil I have seen under the sun,
the kind of mistake rulers make, is that
6fools are promoted to high positions,
while the rich occupy humble places.
7I have seen servants riding horses,
while princes walk on foot like slaves.
8He who digs a pit may fall into it;
he who breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake.
9He who quarries stones may get hurt by them,
he who chops wood puts himself in danger.
10If the [hatchet’s] iron [blade] is blunt,
and [its user] doesn’t sharpen it,
he will have to exert more effort;
but the expert has the advantage of his skill.
11If a snake bites before it is charmed,
the snake-charmer has no advantage.
12The words spoken by the wise bring them favor,
but the lips of a fool swallow him up.
13What he says starts with foolishness
and ends with wicked madness.
14A fool keeps talking and talking,
yet no one knows what the future will bring —
can anyone tell a person
what will happen after he’s gone?
15The efforts of a fool wear him out;
he doesn’t even know the way to town!
16Woe to you, land, when your king is a child,
and your leaders start their parties in the morning!
17Happy are you, land, when your king is well-born,
and your princes eat at the proper time,
in order to stay strong, not to get drunk!
18When the owner is lazy, the roof sags;
when hands are idle, the house leaks.
19Parties are made for having a good time,
wine adds cheer to life,
and money has an answer for everything.
20Don’t insult the king, not even in your thoughts;
and don’t insult the wealthy, not even in your bedroom;
for a bird in the air might carry the news,
a creature with wings might repeat what you said.