1Dead flies make the perfumer's ointment give off a foul odor;
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
2The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
but the heart of a fool to the left.
3Even when fools walk on the road, they lack sense,
and show to everyone that they are fools.
4If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your post,
for calmness will undo great offenses.
5There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, as great an error as if it proceeded from the ruler: 6folly is set in many high places, and the rich sit in a low place. 7I have seen slaves on horseback, and princes walking on foot like slaves.
8Whoever digs a pit will fall into it;
and whoever breaks through a wall will be bitten by a snake.
9Whoever quarries stones will be hurt by them;
and whoever splits logs will be endangered by them.
10If the iron is blunt, and one does not whet the edge,
then more strength must be exerted;
but wisdom helps one to succeed.
11If the snake bites before it is charmed,
there is no advantage in a charmer.
12Words spoken by the wise bring them favor,
but the lips of fools consume them.
13The words of their mouths begin in foolishness,
and their talk ends in wicked madness;
14yet fools talk on and on.
No one knows what is to happen,
and who can tell anyone what the future holds?
15The toil of fools wears them out,
for they do not even know the way to town.
16Alas for you, O land, when your king is a servant,#10.16 Or a child
and your princes feast in the morning!
17Happy are you, O land, when your king is a nobleman,
and your princes feast at the proper time—
for strength, and not for drunkenness!
18Through sloth the roof sinks in,
and through indolence the house leaks.
19Feasts are made for laughter;
wine gladdens life,
and money meets every need.
20Do not curse the king, even in your thoughts,
or curse the rich, even in your bedroom;
for a bird of the air may carry your voice,
or some winged creature tell the matter.