Passage: Ecclesiastes 10, 11, 12 (RSV)

Ecclesiastes 10

1Dead flies make the perfumer's ointment give off an evil odor; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
2A wise man's heart inclines him toward the right, but a fool's heart toward the left.
3Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense, and he says to every one that he is a fool.
4If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place, for deference will make amends for great offenses.
5There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as it were an error proceeding from the ruler:
6folly is set in many high places, and the rich sit in a low place.
7I have seen slaves on horses, and princes walking on foot like slaves.
8He who digs a pit will fall into it; and a serpent will bite him who breaks through a wall.
9He who quarries stones is hurt by them; and he who splits logs is endangered by them.
10If the iron is blunt, and one does not whet the edge, he must put forth more strength; but wisdom helps one to succeed.
11If the serpent bites before it is charmed, there is no advantage in a charmer.
12The words of a wise man's mouth win him favor, but the lips of a fool consume him.
13The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness, and the end of his talk is wicked madness.
14A fool multiplies words, though no man knows what is to be, and who can tell him what will be after him?
15The toil of a fool wearies him, so that he does not know the way to the city.
16Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes feast in the morning!
17Happy are you, O land, when your king is the son of free men, and your princes feast at the proper time, for strength, and not for drunkenness!
18Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks.
19Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life, and money answers everything.
20Even in your thought, do not curse the king, nor in your bedchamber curse the rich; for a bird of the air will carry your voice, or some winged creature tell the matter.

Ecclesiastes 11

1Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.
2Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what evil may happen on earth.
3If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth; and if a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.
4He who observes the wind will not sow; and he who regards the clouds will not reap.
5As you do not know how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.
6In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.
7Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun.
8For if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.
9Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.
10Remove vexation from your mind, and put away pain from your body; for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.

Ecclesiastes 12

1Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw nigh, when you will say, "I have no pleasure in them";
2before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain;
3in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look through the windows are dimmed,
4and the doors on the street are shut; when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the voice of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low;
5they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along and desire fails; because man goes to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets;
6before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern,
7and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
8Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.
9Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging proverbs with great care.
10The Preacher sought to find pleasing words, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.
11The sayings of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings which are given by one Shepherd.
12My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
13The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.
14For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

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