Ecc 10.1-20 is a series of one-line proverbs.
v 1…Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil stink, so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor (this verse continues the theme of 9.18).
v 2…A wise man’s heart directs him towards the right (as defined in the Torah and is the side of strength), but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left (the side of weakness).
V 3…Even when the fool walks along the road his course is lacking (acts stupidly), and he demonstrates to everyone that he is a fool (to all those who meet and talk with him).
v 4…If the ruler’s temper rises against you (for some reason); do not abandon your position (post), because composure (conciliation) allays great offenses (submissiveness can appease wrath).
v 5…There is an evil (in the sense of injustice) I have seen under the sun (everywhere in his physical life), like an error which goes forth from a ruler (a royal decree made in error, irreversable and far reaching).
v 6…Folly is set in many exalted places while rich men sit in humble positions (the first of a few examples of how life seems unfair).
v 7…I have seen slaves riding on horses (riding with ceremony like a prince, unwisely exalted and promoted) and princes walking like slaves on the land (humbled and despised).
v 8…He who digs a pit may fall into it and a serpent may bite him who breaks through a wall (be careful and cautious in what we do).
v 9…He who quarries stones may be hurt by them, and he who splits logs may be endangered by them (dangerous jobs or activities have consequences).
v 10…If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength (because he has neglected the edge and did not pay attention to it). Wisdom has the advantage of giving success (to be successful without difficulty, know what you are doing-don’t need to use brute strength or force to get things done).
v 11…If the serpent bites before being charmed (“whispered to” and using the voice to control it), there is no profit to the charmer (he is ruined).
v 12…Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious (pleasant, welcome), while the lips of a fool consume him (the babbler’s words will lead to ruin).
v 13…The beginning of his talking is folly (as soon as he opens his mouth to talk you know he is a fool), and the end of it is wicked madness (no sense to anything they say).
v 14…Yet the fool multiplies words (talks too much), no man knows what will happen (tomorrow), and who can tell him what will come after him (he makes plans for the future, but who knows what mischief will be produced by presuming to know the future).
v 15…The toil with a fool so wearies him (the fool and those who are with them) that he does not even know how to go to a city (the plain easy way to do things cannot be found with a fool, he is ignorant of the easiest things to understand).
v 16…Woe to you, O land, whose king is a youth (inexperienced and immature) and whose princes feast in the morning (give themselves to sensual pleasure, eat to excess, instead of taking care of business and giving counsel in court).
v 17…Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility (son of nobles, a free man and master of his passions) and whose princes eat at the appropriate time (after they have concluded their business)-for strength (fit to serve, don’t indulge their senses) and not for drunkenness (as in v 16).
v 18…Through indulgence (laziness) the rafters (beams, ceiling) sag and through slackness the house leaks (it decays and is neglected).
v 19…Men prepare a meal for enjoyment (pleasantness with family and friends), and wine makes life merry (exhilarates, cheery), and money is the answer to everything (it buys what is needed for a feast and all the other things in life).
v 20…Furthermore, in your thought do not curse a king (the king may hear about it), and in your sleeping rooms do not curse a rich man (the princes and the ruling class), for a bird of the heavens will carry the sound (of your words), and the winged creatures will make the matter (Hebrew “davar” or word) known (an expression meaning by some unthought of ways what you said may get back to the king).