Ecclesiastes 10
Contemporary English Version

1A few dead flies in perfume

make all of it stink,

and a little foolishness

outweighs a lot of wisdom.

2Sensible thoughts lead you

to do right;

foolish thoughts lead you

to do wrong.

3Fools show their stupidity

by the way they live;

it's easy to see

they have no sense.

4Don't give up your job

when your boss gets angry.

If you stay calm,

you'll be forgiven.

5Rulers do some things that are terribly unfair: 6They honor fools, but dishonor the rich; 7they let slaves ride on horses, but force slave owners to walk.

8 If you dig a pit,

you might fall in;

if you break down a wall,

a snake might bite you.+

9You could even get hurt

by chiseling a stone

or chopping a log.

10If you don't sharpen your ax,

it will be harder to use;

if you are wise,

you'll know what to do.+

11The power to charm a snake

does you no good

if it bites you anyway.

12If you talk sensibly,

you will have friends;

if you talk foolishly,

you will destroy yourself.

13Fools begin with nonsense,

and their stupid chatter

ends with disaster.

14They never tire of talking,

but none of us really know

what the future will bring.

15Fools wear themselves out—

they don't know enough

to find their way home.+

16A country is in for trouble

when its ruler is childish,

and its leaders

party all day long.

17But a nation will prosper

when its ruler is mature,

and its leaders

don't party too much.

18Some people are too lazy

to fix a leaky roof—

then the house collapses.

19Eating and drinking

make you feel happy,

and money can buy

everything you need.

20Don't let yourself think about

cursing the king;

don't curse the rich,

not even in secret.

A little bird might hear

and tell everything.


10.8 a snake might bite you: Walls of houses were often made of stones with mud to fill in the cracks between them. If some of the mud washed out, a snake could be living inside the wall.
10.10 do: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 10.
10.15 home: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 15.

Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®)

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Ecclesiastes 9
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