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Ecclesiastes 10:1

New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995) [2]
— Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil stink, so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom [and] honor.
King James Version (KJV 1769) [2]
— Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: [so doth] a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom [and] honour.
English Revised Version (ERV 1885)
— Dead flies cause the ointment of the perfumer to send forth a stinking savour: [so] doth a little folly outweigh wisdom and honour.
American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Dead flies cause the oil of the perfumer to send forth an evil odor; [so] doth a little folly outweigh wisdom and honor.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth an offensive odor: [so doth] a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom [and] honor.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to stink [and] ferment; [so] a little folly is weightier than wisdom [and] honour.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Dead flies, cause to stink [and] ferment, the oil of the perfumer,—More costly than wisdom or honour, is a little folly.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— Dead flies cause a perfumer's perfume To send forth a stink; The precious by reason of wisdom—By reason of honour—a little folly!
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— Dying flies spoil the sweetness of the ointment. Wisdom and glory is more precious than a small and shortlived folly.
Geneva Bible (GNV 1560)
— Dead flies cause to stinke, ? putrifie the ointment of the apoticarie: so doeth a litle follie him that is in estimation for wisedome, and for glorie.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Dead flies cause the oyntment of the Apothecarie to send foorth a stinking sauour: [so] doeth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisedome [and] honour.
Lamsa Bible (1957)
— LIKE dead flies which make the container of precious ointment stink, so does a great folly outweigh wisdom and honor.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— Pestilent flies will corrupt a preparation of sweet ointment: [and] a little wisdom is more precious than great glory of folly.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: [so doth] a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom [and] honour.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Dead 4194
{4194} Prime
From H4191; death (natural or violent); concretely the dead, their place or state (hades); figuratively pestilence, ruin.
flies 2070
{2070} Prime
From an unused root (meaning to flit); a fly (especially one of a stinging nature).
cause the ointment 8081
{8081} Prime
From H8080; grease, especially liquid (as from the olive, often perfumed); figuratively richness.
of the apothecary 7543
{7543} Prime
A primitive root; to perfume.
<8802> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Participle Active (See H8814)
Count - 5386
to send forth 5042
{5042} Prime
A primitive root; to gush forth; figuratively to utter (good or bad words); specifically to emit (a foul odor).
<8686> Grammar
Stem - Hiphil (See H8818)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 4046
a stinking savour: 887
{0887} Prime
A primitive root; to smell bad; figuratively to be offensive morally.
<8686> Grammar
Stem - Hiphil (See H8818)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 4046
[so doth] a little 4592
{4592} Prime
From H4591; a little or few (often adverbial or comparative).
folly 5531
{5531} Prime
From H5528; silliness.
him that is in reputation 3368
{3368} Prime
From H3365; valuable (objectively or subjectively).
for wisdom 2451
{2451} Prime
From H2449; wisdom (in a good sense).
(4480) Complement
For H4482; properly a part of; hence (prepositionally), from or out of in many senses.
[and] honour. 3519
{3519} Prime
From H3513; properly weight; but only figuratively in a good sense, splendor or copiousness.
(4480) Complement
For H4482; properly a part of; hence (prepositionally), from or out of in many senses.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Ecclesiastes 10:1

_ _ Following up Ecclesiastes 9:18.

_ _ him that is in reputation — for example, David (2 Samuel 12:14); Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-43); Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 18:1-34; 2 Chronicles 19:2); Josiah (2 Chronicles 35:22). The more delicate the perfume, the more easily spoiled is the ointment. Common oil is not so liable to injury. So the higher a man’s religious character is, the more hurt is caused by a sinful folly in him. Bad savor is endurable in oil, but not in what professes to be, and is compounded by the perfumer (“apothecary”) for, fragrance. “Flies” answer to “a little folly” (sin), appropriately, being small (1 Corinthians 5:6); also, “Beelzebub” means prince of flies. “Ointment” answers to “reputation” (Ecclesiastes 7:1; Genesis 34:30). The verbs are singular, the noun plural, implying that each of the flies causes the stinking savor.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Ecclesiastes 10:1-3

_ _ In these verses Solomon shows,

_ _ I. What great need wise men have to take heed of being guilty of any instance of folly; for a little folly is a great blemish to him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour, and is as hurtful to his good name as dead flies are to a sweet perfume, not only spoiling the sweetness of it, but making it to send forth a stinking savour. Note, 1. True wisdom is true honour, and will gain a man a reputation, which is like a box of precious ointment, pleasing and very valuable. 2. The reputation that is got with difficulty, and by a great deal of wisdom, may be easily lost, and by a little folly, because envy fastens upon eminency, and makes the worst of the mistakes and miscarriages of those who are cried up for wisdom, and improves them to their disadvantage; so that the folly which in another would not be taken notice of in them is severely censured. Those who make a great profession of religion have need to walk very circumspectly, to abstain from all appearances of evil, and approaches towards it, because many eyes are upon them, that watch for their halting; their character is soon sullied, and they have a great deal of reputation to lose.

_ _ II. What a deal of advantage a wise man has above a fool in the management of business (Ecclesiastes 10:2): A wise man's heart is at his right hand, so that he goes about his business with dexterity, turns his hand readily to it, and goes through it with despatch; his counsel and courage are ready to him, whenever he has occasion for them. But a fool's heart is at his left hand; it is always to seek when he has any thing to do that is of importance, and therefore he goes awkwardly about it, like a man that is left-handed; he is soon at a loss and at his wits' end.

_ _ III. How apt fools are at every turn to proclaim their own folly, and expose themselves; he that is either witless or graceless, either silly or wicked, if he be ever so little from under the check, and left to himself, if he but walk by the way, soon shows what he is; his wisdom fails him, and, by some impropriety or other, he says to every one he meets that he is a fool (Ecclesiastes 10:3), that is, he discovers his folly as plainly as if he had told them so. He cannot conceal it, and he is not ashamed of it. Sin is the reproach of sinners wherever they go.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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Geneva Bible Translation Notes

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Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
Dead flies:
Heb. Flies of death

the ointment:

Exodus 30:34-35 And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; [these] sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like [weight]: ... And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure [and] holy:

a little:

2 Chronicles 19:2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore [is] wrath upon thee from before the LORD.
Nehemiah 6:13 Therefore [was] he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin, and [that] they might have [matter] for an evil report, that they might reproach me.
Nehemiah 13:26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin.
Matthew 5:13-16 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. ... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Galatians 2:12-14 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. ... But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before [them] all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
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Chain-Reference Bible SearchCross References with Concordance

Ex 30:34. 2Ch 19:2. Ne 6:13; 13:26. Mt 5:13. Ga 2:12.

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