1A good name is better than perfumed oil,
and the day of death better than the day of birth.
2Better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for all are destined to be mourned;
the living should lay this to heart.
3Grief is better than laughter,
for sadness can improve a person.
4The thoughts of the wise are in the house of mourning,
but the thoughts of fools are in the house of pleasure.
5It is better to hear the rebukes of the wise
than to listen to the songs of fools.
6For the laughter of fools is like the crackling of thorns
burning under a pot; this too is pointless.
7But oppression can make a wise man stupid;
also a gift can destroy understanding.
8The end of something is better than its beginning,
so the patient are better than the proud.
9Don’t be quick to get angry,
for [only] fools nurse anger.
10Don’t ask why the old days were better than now,
because that is a foolish question.
11Wisdom is good, along with possessions,
an advantage to all who see the sun.
12For wisdom is a shelter,
and money is a shelter,
but the advantage of knowledge is
that wisdom keeps the one who has it alive.
13Consider the work of God:
who can make straight what he has made crooked?
14When things are going well, enjoy yourself;
but when things are going badly, consider
that God made the one alongside the other,
so that people would learn nothing of their futures.
15In my pointless life, I’ve seen everything —
from the righteous person perishing in his uprightness
to the wicked one who lives a long life
and keeps on doing wrong.
16So don’t be overly righteous or overly wise;
why should you disappoint yourself?
17But don’t be overly wicked, and don’t be foolish;
why should you die before your time?
18Don’t grasp just one of these rules;
take hold of the other as well;
for he who is in fear of God
will live by both of them.
19To a wise man wisdom is better protection
than ten rulers in a city.
20For there isn’t a righteous person on earth
who does [only] good and never sins.
21Also, don’t take seriously every word spoken,
such as when you hear your servant speaking badly of you;
22because often, as you yourself know,
you have spoken badly of others.
23All this I have put to the test of wisdom;
I said, “I will acquire wisdom”;
but wisdom remained far away from me.
24That which exists is far away
and deep, so deep, that it can’t be discovered.
25So I turned myself and my thoughts to know, search out and seek wisdom and the reasons behind things, also to know how foolish it is to be wicked and how stupid to act like a fool.
26I found more bitter than death
the woman who is a trap,
whose heart is a snare
and whose hands are like prison chains.
The man who pleases God will escape from her,
but the sinner will be caught by her.
27I have found this — says Kohelet —
adding one thing to another to reach a conclusion,
28I searched a long time without finding it:
one man in a thousand I have found,
but a woman among all those I have not found.
29This is the only thing I have found,
that God made human beings upright,
but they have devised many schemes.