A Little Foolishness
1Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil stink, so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor. 2A wise man’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left. 3Even when the fool walks along the road, his sense is lacking and he demonstrates to everyone that he is a fool. 4If the ruler’s temper rises against you, do not abandon your position, because composure allays great offenses.
5There is an evil I have seen under the sun, like an error which goes forth from the ruler— 6folly is set in many exalted places while rich men sit in humble places. 7I have seen slaves riding on horses and princes walking like slaves on the land.
8He who digs a pit may fall into it, and a serpent may bite him who breaks through a wall. 9He who quarries stones may be hurt by them, and he who splits logs may be endangered by them. 10If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success. 11If the serpent bites before being charmed, there is no profit for the charmer. 12Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him; 13the beginning of his talking is folly and the end of it is wicked madness. 14Yet the fool multiplies words. No man knows what will happen, and who can tell him what will come after him? 15The toil of a fool so wearies him that he does not even know how to go to a city. 16Woe to you, O land, whose king is a lad and whose princes feast in the morning. 17Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility and whose princes eat at the appropriate time—for strength and not for drunkenness. 18Through indolence the rafters sag, and through slackness the house leaks. 19Men prepare a meal for enjoyment, and wine makes life merry, and money is the answer to everything. 20Furthermore, in your bedchamber do not curse a king, and in your sleeping rooms do not curse a rich man, for a bird of the heavens will carry the sound and the winged creature will make the matter known.