The Bible – Old Testament
1 A good name is better than good ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth.
It is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting, For that is the end of every man, and the living should take it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter, because when the face is sad the heart grows wiser.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
It is better to hearken to the wise man’s rebuke than to hearken to the song of fools;
For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the fool’s laughter.
For oppression can make a fool of a wise man, and a bribe corrupts the heart.
Better is the end of speech than its beginning; better is the patient spirit than the lofty spirit.
Do not in spirit become quickly discontented, for discontent lodges in the bosom of a fool.
Do not say: How is it that former times were better than these? For it is not in wisdom that you ask about this.
Wisdom and an inheritance are good, and an advantage to those that see the sun.
For the protection of wisdom is as the protection of money; and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of its owner.
Consider the work of God. Who can make straight what he has made crooked?
On a good day enjoy good things, and on an evil day consider: Both the one and the other God has made, so that man cannot find fault with him in anything.
I have seen all manner of things in my vain days: a just man perishing in his justice, and a wicked one surviving in his wickedness.
2 “Be not just to excess, and be not overwise, lest you be ruined.
3 Be not wicked to excess, and be not foolish. Why should you die before your time?”
4 It is good to hold to this rule, and not to let that one go; but he who fears God will win through at all events.
Wisdom is a better defense for the wise man than would be ten princes in the city,
5 yet there is no man on earth so just as to do good and never sin.
Do not give heed to every word that is spoken lest you hear your servant speaking ill of you,
for you know in your heart that you have many times spoken ill of others.
All these things I probed in wisdom. I said, “I will acquire wisdom”; but it was beyond me.
What exists is far-reaching; it is deep, very deep: who can find it out?
I turned my thoughts toward knowledge; I sought and pursued wisdom and reason, and I recognized that wickedness is foolish and folly is madness.
More bitter than death I find the woman who is a hunter’s trap, whose heart is a snare and whose hands are prison bonds. He who is pleasing to God will escape her, but the sinner will be entrapped by her.
Behold, this have I found, says Qoheleth, adding one thing to another that I might discover the answer
6 which my soul still seeks and has not found: One man out of a thousand have I come upon, but a woman among them all I have not found.
7 Behold, only this have I found out: God made mankind straight, but men have had recourse to many calculations.
1  Ointment: applied to the child at birth; a good name remains even after death.
2  St. Jerome explains the warning against excessive justice in reference to the self-righteous man who is so stern that he is never willing to forgive sin in others; cf ⇒ Eccl 7:20-22.
3  Untimely death was traditionally recognized as a divine punishment of the wicked; cf ⇒ 1 Sam 2:31-34; ⇒ Jeremiah 17:11; ⇒ Psalm 55:23; ⇒ Proverb 10:27. This warning against presumptuous wickedness is not an endorsement of any lesser degree of misconduct.
4  This rule . . . that one: the sayings cited in ⇒ Eccl 7:16-17. Others refer this and that to riches and wisdom (cf ⇒ Eccl 7:12), justice and wisdom, or justice and wickedness. This last supposition makes the author’s thought hard to follow.
5  This is to be understood in the sense of ⇒ Romans 5:12. See note there.
6  The author found sincerity rare among men, but among women still more rare.
7  Calculations: the many vain attempts and schemes of men to attain happiness by their own efforts.