10:1 One dead fly makes the perfumer’s ointment give off a rancid stench,
so a little folly can outweigh much wisdom.
Wisdom Can Be Nullified By the Caprice of Rulers
10:2 A wise person’s good sense protects him,
but a fool’s lack of sense leaves him vulnerable.
10:3 Even when a fool walks along the road he lacks sense,
and shows everyone what a fool he is.
10:4 If the anger of the ruler flares up against you, do not resign from your position,
for a calm response can undo great offenses.
10:5 I have seen another misfortune on the earth:
It is an error a ruler makes.
10:6 Fools are placed in many positions of authority,
while wealthy men sit in lowly positions.
10:7 I have seen slaves on horseback
and princes walking on foot like slaves.
Wisdom is Needed to Avert Dangers in Everyday Life
10:8 One who digs a pit may fall into it,
and one who breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake.
10:9 One who quarries stones may be injured by them;
one who splits logs may be endangered by them.
10:10 If an iron axhead is blunt and a workman does not sharpen its edge,
he must exert a great deal of effort;
so wisdom has the advantage of giving success.
10:11 If the snake should bite before it is charmed,
the snake charmer is in trouble.
Words and Works of Wise Men and Fools
10:12 The words of a wise person win him favor,
but the words of a fool are self-destructive.
10:13 At the beginning his words are foolish
and at the end his talk is wicked madness,
10:14 yet a fool keeps on babbling.
No one knows what will happen;
who can tell him what will happen in the future?
10:15 The toil of a stupid fool wears him out,
because he does not even know the way to the city.
The Problem with Foolish Rulers
10:16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is childish,
and your princes feast in the morning!
10:17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobility,
and your princes feast at the proper time – with self-control and not in drunkenness.
10:18 Because of laziness the roof caves in,
and because of idle hands the house leaks.
10:19 Feasts are made for laughter,
and wine makes life merry,
but money is the answer for everything.
10:20 Do not curse a king even in your thoughts,
and do not curse the rich while in your bedroom;
for a bird might report what you are thinking,
or some winged creature might repeat your words.