Ecclesiastes 10

A Little Foolishness

10 Dead flies turn a perfumer’s oil rancid, so a little foolishness is more [a]potent than wisdom and honor. A wise person’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish person’s heart directs him toward the left. Even when the fool walks along the road, his [b]sense is lacking, and he [c]demonstrates to everyone that he is a fool. If the ruler’s [d]temper rises against you, do not abandon your place, because composure puts great offenses to rest.

There is an evil I have seen under the sun, like a mistake that proceeds from the ruler: foolishness is set in many exalted places while the rich sit in humble places. I have seen slaves riding on horses and princes walking like slaves on the land.

One who digs a pit may fall into it, and a serpent may bite one who breaks through a wall. One who quarries stones may be hurt by them, and one who splits logs may be endangered by them. 10 If the [e]axe is dull and he does not sharpen its [f]edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of bringing success. 11 If the serpent bites [g]before being charmed, there is no benefit for the charmer. 12 Words from the mouth of a wise person are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him; 13 the beginning of [h]his talking is foolishness, and the end of [i]it is evil insanity. 14 Yet the fool multiplies words. No person knows what will happen, and who can tell him what will come after him? 15 The labor of [j]a fool makes him so weary that he does not even know how to go to a city. 16 Woe to you, land whose king is a boy, and whose princes [k]feast in the morning. 17 Blessed are you, land whose king is of nobility, and whose princes eat at the appropriate time—for strength and not for drunkenness. 18 Through extreme laziness the rafters sag, and through idleness the house leaks. 19 People prepare a meal for enjoyment, wine makes life joyful, and money [l]is the answer to everything. 20 Furthermore, in your bedroom do not curse a king, and in your sleeping rooms do not curse a rich person; for a bird of the sky will bring the sound, and the winged one will make your word known.


  1. Ecclesiastes 10:1 Lit costly
  2. Ecclesiastes 10:3 Lit heart
  3. Ecclesiastes 10:3 Lit says
  4. Ecclesiastes 10:4 Lit spirit
  5. Ecclesiastes 10:10 Lit iron
  6. Ecclesiastes 10:10 Lit faces
  7. Ecclesiastes 10:11 Lit with no incantation
  8. Ecclesiastes 10:13 Lit the words of his mouth
  9. Ecclesiastes 10:13 Lit his mouth
  10. Ecclesiastes 10:15 Lit fools make
  11. Ecclesiastes 10:16 Lit eat
  12. Ecclesiastes 10:19 Lit answers all