זְבוּבֵי מָוֶת יַבְאִישׁ יַבִּיעַ שֶׁמֶן רֹוקֵחַ יָקָר מֵחָכְמָה מִכָּבֹוד סִכְלוּת מְעָט׃ 10:1
Eccl. 10:1 The flies of someone dead would cause the ointment of a perfumer to stink, to ferment
-- a little folly can be more costly than wisdom, than honor.
לֵב חָכָם לִימִינֹו וְלֵב כְּסִיל לִשְׂמֹאלֹו׃ 10:2
Eccl. 10:2 The understanding of a wise person is his right hand,
but the understanding of a fool is his left hand.
וְגַם־בַּדֶּרֶךְ (כְּשֶׁהַסָּכָל) [כְּשֶׁסָּכָל] הֹלֵךְ לִבֹּו חָסֵר וְאָמַר לַכֹּל סָכָל הוּא׃ 10:3
Eccl. 10:3 And also when one who is the fool is on the way,
his understanding is so lacking
that to everyone he would say he is a fool.
The word in the parentheses, translated by me as when one who is the fool, is assumed to be in error. The correction in the brackets removes the heh. I believe the heh is proper, so the word can get translated as ... the fool instead of ... a fool.
אִם־רוּחַ הַמֹּושֵׁל תַּעֲלֶה עָלֶיךָ מְקֹומְךָ אַל־תַּנַּח כִּי מַרְפֵּא יַנִּיחַ חֲטָאִים גְּדֹולִים׃ 10:4
Eccl. 10:4 If the spirit of the ruler should rise up against you,
you should not depart from your place,
for calm can allay great offenses.
I seriously and humbly consider this advice itself to be folly. If David had followed it, he probably would not have survived to become king.
יֵשׁ רָעָה רָאִיתִי תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ כִּשְׁגָגָה שֶׁיֹּצָא מִלִּפְנֵי הַשַּׁלִּיט׃ 10:5
Eccl. 10:5 I see there is an evil under the sun,
like an error that comes forth from the presence of the ruler:
נִתַּן הַסֶּכֶל בַּמְּרֹומִים רַבִּים וַעֲשִׁירִים בַּשֵּׁפֶל יֵשֵׁבוּ׃ 10:6
Eccl. 10:6 Folly is set on the highest pedestals,
while riches dwell in low estate.
רָאִיתִי עֲבָדִים עַל־סוּסִים וְשָׂרִים הֹלְכִים כַּעֲבָדִים עַל־הָאָרֶץ׃ 10:7
Eccl. 10:7 I see servants on horses,
and princes walking like servants on the earth.
חֹפֵר גּוּמָּץ בֹּו יִפֹּול וּפֹרֵץ גָּדֵר יִשְּׁכֶנּוּ נָחָשׁ׃ 10:8
Eccl. 10:8 The digger of a pit can fall into it,
and one breaking down a fence, a snake may bite him.
מַסִּיעַ אֲבָנִים יֵעָצֵב בָּהֶם בֹּוקֵעַ עֵצִים יִסָּכֶן בָּם׃ 10:9
Eccl. 10:9 Anyone plucking up stones may be hurt by them.
The splitter of logs can incur danger among them.
אִם־קֵהָה הַבַּרְזֶל וְהוּא לֹא־פָנִים קִלְקַל וַחֲיָלִים יְגַבֵּר וְיִתְרֹון הַכְשֵׁיר חָכְמָה׃ 10:10
Eccl. 10:10 If the iron is dull and one does not whet the edge,
then blows will have to be stronger;
so appropriate wisdom makes a profit.
אִם־יִשֹּׁךְ הַנָּחָשׁ בְּלֹוא־לָחַשׁ וְאֵין יִתְרֹון לְבַעַל הַלָּשֹׁון׃ 10:11
Eccl. 10:11 Should the snake bite before being charmed,
then there is no advantage to the master of eloquence.
This verse appears to have been seen as difficult to translate and to interpret. To make better sense of the Hebrew, most bibles have a mistranslation of the last two words. They use snake charmer (or just charmer) or babbler. I think there is no need to mistranslate those words, as the verse appears to me to make sense without distorting it. As I read it, It equates the snake charmer with the eloquent speaker. The eloquent speaker charms his audience as the charmer charms his snake. If the charmer can be bitten early in his performance, so the eloquent speaker can be “bitten” by his audience before he can win them over.
דִּבְרֵי פִי־חָכָם חֵן וְשִׂפְתֹות כְּסִיל תְּבַלְּעֶנּוּ׃ 10:12
Eccl. 10:12 The words of a skillful mouth are grace,
while the lips of a fool could swallow him up.
תְּחִלַּת דִּבְרֵי־פִיהוּ סִכְלוּת וְאַחֲרִית פִּיהוּ הֹולֵלוּת רָעָה׃ 10:13
Eccl. 10:13 The first of the words of his mouth is foolishness,
and the last of his mouth is disagreeable madness.
וְהַסָּכָל יַרְבֶּה דְבָרִים לֹא־יֵדַע הָאָדָם מַה־שֶׁיִּהְיֶה וַאֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה מֵאַחֲרָיו מִי יַגִּיד לֹו׃ 10:14
Eccl. 10:14 And the fool would multiply words!
No human knows what shall be or what more will be after him.
Who can tell him?
עֲמַל הַכְּסִילִים תְּיַגְּעֶנּוּ אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יָדַע לָלֶכֶת אֶל־עִיר׃ 10:15
Eccl. 10:15 The labor of fools will make him weary
who does not know to go to town.
This verse, like v. 10:11, appears to have also been seen as difficult to translate and to interpret. To make better sense of the Hebrew, all bibles have a mistranslation of the verse. They all have something like “The labor of the foolish wearies every one of them, because he knows not how to go to the city.” Yet to me, this makes no more sense than the accurate translation above. Can we make some sense of my translation? Maybe. If the word how, which is found in most translations, were actually present in the Hebrew, the interpretation would be fairly simple. But that word is absent. The verse says only “does not know to go ....” So we have to do some analysis. What does it mean to not know to go to town? Well, it would seem to me that everyone in his field must sooner or later go to town, for a variety of reasons, to purchase supplies, to sell wares, to go to synagogue, etc. If one does not know to do this, he would have to be a dolt. And I imagine a dolt would indeed be wearied by the labor (read folly or foolishness) of fools. Does the verse make more sense now? I believe it does.
אִי־לָךְ אֶרֶץ שֶׁמַּלְכֵּךְ נָעַר וְשָׂרַיִךְ בַּבֹּקֶר יֹאכֵלוּ׃ 10:16
Eccl. 10:16 Woe to you, land, that your king is a boy,
so your princes can devour in the morning.
This verse offers us a metaphor. If a king is inexperienced, the princes will quickly swallow all the wealth of the land.
אַשְׁרֵיךְ אֶרֶץ שֶׁמַּלְכֵּךְ בֶּן־חֹורִים וְשָׂרַיִךְ בָּעֵת יֹאכֵלוּ בִּגְבוּרָה וְלֹא בַשְּׁתִי׃ 10:17
Eccl. 10:17 Happy are you, land, that your king is a nobleman,
that your princes would eat in season in strength, and not in drunkenness.
בַּעֲצַלְתַּיִם יִמַּךְ הַמְּקָרֶה וּבְשִׁפְלוּת יָדַיִם יִדְלֹף הַבָּיִת׃ 10:18
Eccl. 10:18 Because of slothfulness the structure will sink,
and because of idleness of the hands the house will leak.
לִשְׂחֹוק עֹשִׂים לֶחֶם וְיַיִן יְשַׂמַּח חַיִּים וְהַכֶּסֶף יַעֲנֶה אֶת־הַכֹּל׃ 10:19
Eccl. 10:19 Food and wine have been made for laughter;
it will gladden life.
And money will confirm it all.
גַּם בְּמַדָּעֲךָ מֶלֶךְ אַל־תְּקַלֵּל וּבְחַדְרֵי מִשְׁכָּבְךָ אַל־תְּקַלֵּל עָשִׁיר כִּי עֹוף הַשָּׁמַיִם יֹולִיךְ אֶת־הַקֹּול 10:20
וּבַעַל (הַכְּנָפַיִם) [כְּנָפַיִם] יַגֵּיד דָּבָר׃
Eccl. 10:20 Even in your mind you must not curse a king,
or curse one of wealth in your bedrooms,
for fowl of the sky can carry the sound,
and the bird owner can make known the word.
The word in parentheses is thought to have an extra heh prefix. I believe there is no error, the heh allowing the word (along with the word preceding it) to be translated as the bird owner (or owner of the birds) instead of a bird owner.
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