Ecclesiastes 10:13
The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
10:11-15 There is a practice in the East, of charming serpents by music. The babbler's tongue is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison; and contradiction only makes it the more violent. We must find the way to keep him gentle. But by rash, unprincipled, or slanderous talk, he brings open or secret vengeance upon himself. Would we duly consider our own ignorance as to future events, it would cut off many idle words which we foolishly multiply. Fools toil a great deal to no purpose. They do not understand the plainest things, such as the entrance into a great city. But it is the excellency of the way to the heavenly city, that it is a high-way, in which the simplest wayfaring men shall not err, Isa 25:8. But sinful folly makes men miss that only way to happiness.Rather: "If a serpent without enchantment (i. e., not being enchanted) bites, then there is no advantage to the charmer": i. e., if the charmer is unwisely slack in exercising his craft, he will be bitten like other people. See Psalm 58:4 note. 13. Illustrating the folly and injuriousness of the fool's words; last clause of Ec 10:12. All his talk from the beginning to the end is foolish and mischievous, and the more he talks, the more doth his folly appear; he proceeds from evil to worse, and adds wilfulness to his weakness, and never desists till he hath done mischief to himself or to others. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness,.... As soon as ever he opens his mouth, he betrays his folly; the first word he speaks is a foolish one; or it is from the abundant folly in his heart that he speaks, which is the source and spring of all his foolish talk;

and the end of his talk is mischievous madness; to himself and others; as he goes on, he appears more and more foolish, and yet more confident of his own wisdom; and is resolutely set on having his own way and will; grows warm, and is violently hot, to have his own words regarded; and, if contradicted, is like a madman, scattering arrows, firebrands, and death; his talk from first to last is a circle of folly; and, though it begins with something weak, and may seem innocent, yet it ends and issues in wickedness and madness, in rage and wrath, in oaths and curses.

The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness] The words point, with a profound insight into human nature, to the progress from bad to worse in one who has the gift of speech without discretion. He begins with what is simply folly, unwise but harmless, but “vires acquirit eundo” he is borne along on the swelling floods of his own declamatory fluency, and ends in what is “mischievous madness.” He commits himself to statements and conclusions which, in his calmer moments, he would have shrunk from. As has been said of such an orator or preacher, without plan or forethought, he “goes forth, not knowing whither he goeth.”Verse 13. - The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness. A confirmation of the last clause of the preceding verse. The fool speaks according to his nature. "As saith the proverb of the ancients, Out of the wicked cometh forth wickedness" (1 Samuel 24:13; cutup. Proverbs 15:2; Isaiah 32:6). As soon as he opens his month he utters folly, unwisdom, silliness. But he does not stop there. The end of his talk is mischievous madness. By the time he has finished, he has committed himself to statements that are worse than silly, that are presumptuous, frenzied, indicative of mental and moral depravity. Intemperate language about the secrets of God's providence and the moral government of the world may be intended. Some think that the writer is still alluding to dangerous talk concerning a tyrannical ruler, seditious proposals, secret conspiracies, etc. The text itself does not confirm such notion with any certainty. "Folly is set on great heights, and the rich must sit in lowliness. I have seen servants upon horses, and princes like servants walking on foot." The word הסּכל (with double seghol, Aram. סכלוּ) is used here instead of those in whom it is personified. Elsewhere a multiplicity of things great, such as עמּים, מים, and the like, is heightened by רבּים (cf. e.g., Psalm 18:17); here "great heights" are such as are of a high, or the highest degree; rabbim, instead of harabbim, is more appos. than adject. (cf. Genesis 43:14; Psalm 68:28; Psalm 143:10; Jeremiah 2:21), in the sense of "many" (e.g., Ginsburg: "in many high positions") it mixes with the poetry of the description dull prose.

(Note: Luzz. reads נתן: "Folly brings many into high places." The order of the words, however, does not favour this.)

Ashirim also is peculiarly used: divites equals nobiles (cf. שׁוע, Isaiah 32:5), those to whom their family inheritance gives a claim to a high station, who possess the means of training themselves for high offices, which they regard as places of honour, not as sources of gain. Regibus multis, Grotius here remarks, quoting from Sallust and Tacitus, suspecti qui excellunt sive sapientia sive nobilitate aut opibus. Hence it appears that the relation of slaves and princes to each other is suggested; hoc discrimen, says Justin, 41:3, of the Parthians, inter servos liberosque est quod servi pedibus, liberi nonnisi equis incedunt; this distinction is set aside, princes must walk 'al-haarěts, i.e., beregel (beraglēhěm), and in their stead (Jeremiah 17:25) slaves sit high on horseback, and rule over them (the princes), - an offensive spectacle, Proverbs 19:10. The eunuch Bagoas, long all-powerful at the Persian Court, is an example of the evil consequences of this reversal of the natural relations of men.

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