8 Who is 1 a 2 wise person? Who knows the solution 3 to a problem? 4
A person’s wisdom brightens his appearance, 5 and softens 6 his harsh countenance. 7
2 Obey the king’s command, 8
because you took 9 an oath before God 10 to be loyal to him. 11
3 Do not rush out of the king’s presence in haste – do not delay when the matter is unpleasant, 12
for he can do whatever he pleases.
4 Surely the king’s authority 13 is absolute; 14
no one can say 15 to him, “What are you doing?”
5 Whoever obeys his 16 command will not experience harm,
and a wise person 17 knows the proper time 18 and procedure.
6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter,
for the oppression 19 of the king 20 is severe upon his victim. 21
7 Surely no one knows the future, 22
and no one can tell another person what will happen. 23
8 Just as no one has power over the wind to restrain it, 24
so no one has power over the day of his 25 death.
Just as no one can be discharged during the battle, 26
so wickedness cannot rescue the wicked. 27
9 While applying 28 my mind 29 to everything 30 that happens in this world, 31 I have seen all this:
Sometimes one person 32 dominates 33 other people 34 to their harm. 35
10 Not only that, 36 but I have seen the wicked approaching 37 and entering the temple, 38
and as they left the holy temple, 39 they
boasted 40 in the city that they had done so.
This also is an enigma. 41
11 When 42 a sentence 43 is not executed 44 at once against a crime, 45
the human heart 46 is encouraged to do evil. 47
12 Even though a sinner might commit a hundred crimes 48 and still live a long time, 49
yet I know that it will go well with God-fearing people 50 – for they stand in fear 51 before him.
13 But it will not go well with the wicked,
nor will they 52 prolong their 53 days like a shadow, 54
because they 55 do not stand in fear 56 before God.
14 Here is 57 another 58 enigma 59 that occurs on earth:
Sometimes there are righteous people who get what the wicked deserve, 60
and sometimes there are wicked people who get what the righteous deserve. 61
I said, “This also is an enigma.”
15 So I recommend the enjoyment of life, 62
for there is nothing better on earth 63 for a person to do 64 except 65 to eat, drink, and enjoy 66 life. 67
So 68 joy 69 will accompany him in his toil
during the days of his life which God gives him on earth. 70
16 When I tried 71 to gain 72 wisdom
and to observe the activity 73 on earth –
even though it prevents anyone from sleeping day or night 74 –
17 then I discerned all that God has done: 75
No one really comprehends what happens 76 on earth. 77
Despite all human 78 efforts to discover it, no one can ever grasp 79 it. 80
Even if 81 a wise person claimed 82 that he understood,
he would not really comprehend 83 it. 84
9 So I reflected on all this, 1 attempting to clear 2 it all up.
I concluded that 3 the righteous and the wise, as well as their works, are in the hand of God;
whether a person will be loved or hated 4 –
no one knows what lies ahead. 5
2 Everyone shares the same fate 6 –
the righteous and the wicked,
the good and the bad, 7
the ceremonially clean and unclean,
those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.
What happens to the good person, also happens to the sinner; 8
what happens to those who make vows, also happens to those who are afraid to make vows.
3 This is the unfortunate fact 9 about everything that happens on earth: 10
the same fate awaits 11 everyone.
In addition to this, the hearts of all people 12 are full of evil,
and there is folly in their hearts during their lives – then they die. 13
4 But whoever is among 14 the living 15 has hope;
a live dog is better than a dead lion.
5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead do not know anything;
they have no further reward – and even the memory of them disappears. 16
6 What they loved, 17 as well as what they hated 18 and envied, 19 perished long ago,
and they no longer have a part in anything that happens on earth. 20
7 Go, eat your food 21 with joy,
and drink your wine with a happy heart,
because God has already approved your works.
8 Let your clothes always be white,
and do not spare precious ointment on your head.
9 Enjoy 22 life with your beloved wife 23 during all the days of your fleeting 24 life
that God 25 has given you on earth 26 during all your fleeting days; 27
for that is your reward in life and in your burdensome work 28 on earth. 29
10 Whatever you find to do with your hands, 30
do it with all your might,
because there is neither work nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom in the grave, 31
the place where you will eventually go. 32
11 Again, 33 I observed this on the earth: 34
the race is not always 35 won by the swiftest,
the battle is not always won by the strongest;
prosperity 36 does not always belong to those who are the wisest,
wealth does not always belong to those who are the most discerning,
nor does success 37 always come to those with the most knowledge –
for time and chance may overcome 38 them all.
12 Surely, no one 39 knows his appointed time! 40
Like fish that are caught in a deadly 41 net, and like birds that are caught in a snare –
just like them, all people 42 are ensnared 43 at an unfortunate 44 time that falls upon them suddenly.
13 This is what I also observed about wisdom on earth, 45
and it is a great burden 46 to me:
14 There was once 47 a small city with a few men in it,
and a mighty king attacked it, besieging 48 it and building strong 49 siege works against it.
15 However, a poor but wise man lived in the city, 50
and he could have delivered 51 the city by his wisdom,
but no one listened 52 to that poor man.
16 So I concluded that wisdom is better than might, 53
but a poor man’s wisdom is despised; no one ever listens 54 to his advice. 55
17 The words of the wise are heard in quiet,
more than the shouting of a ruler is heard 56 among fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
but one sinner can destroy much that is good.
10 One dead fly 1 makes the perfumer’s ointment give off a rancid stench, 2
so a little folly can outweigh 3 much wisdom. 4
2 A wise person’s good sense protects him, 5
but a fool’s lack of sense leaves him vulnerable. 6
3 Even when a fool walks along the road he lacks sense, 7
and shows 8 everyone what a fool he is. 9
4 If the anger 10 of the ruler flares up 11 against you, do not resign 12 from your position, 13
for a calm 14 response 15 can undo 16 great offenses.
5 I have seen another 17 misfortune 18 on the earth: 19
It is an error a ruler makes. 20
6 Fools 21 are placed in many positions of authority, 22
while wealthy men sit in lowly positions.
7 I have seen slaves 23 on horseback
and princes walking on foot 24 like slaves.
8 One who digs a pit may 25 fall into it,
and one who breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. 26
9 One who quarries stones may be injured by them;
one who splits logs may be endangered by them.
10 If an iron axhead 27 is blunt and a workman 28 does not sharpen 29 its edge, 30
he must exert a great deal of effort; 31
so wisdom has the advantage of giving success.
11 If the snake should bite before it is charmed, 32
the snake charmer 33 is in trouble. 34
12 The words of a wise person 35 win him 36 favor, 37
but the words 38 of a fool are self-destructive. 39
13 At the beginning his words 40 are foolish
and at the end 41 his talk 42 is wicked madness, 43
14 yet a fool keeps on babbling. 44
No one knows what will happen;
who can tell him what will happen in the future? 45
15 The toil of a stupid fool 46 wears him out, 47
because he does not even know the way to the city. 48
16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is childish, 49
and your princes feast in the morning!
17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobility, 50
and your princes feast at the proper time 51 – with self-control and not in drunkenness. 52
18 Because of laziness the roof 53 caves in,
and because of idle hands 54 the house leaks.
19 Feasts 55 are made 56 for laughter,
and wine makes life merry, 57
but money is the answer 58 for everything.
20 Do not curse a king even in your thoughts,
and do not curse the rich 59 while in your bedroom; 60
for a bird 61 might report what you are thinking, 62
or some winged creature 63 might repeat your 64 words. 65