Ecclesiastes 10:1
New International Version
As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.

New Living Translation
As dead flies cause even a bottle of perfume to stink, so a little foolishness spoils great wisdom and honor.

English Standard Version
Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.

Berean Study Bible
As dead flies bring a stench to the perfumer’s oil, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.

King James Bible
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.

New King James Version
Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s ointment, And cause it to give off a foul odor; So does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor.

New American Standard Bible
Dead flies turn a perfumer’s oil rancid, so a little foolishness is more potent than wisdom and honor.

NASB 1995
Dead flies make a perfumer's oil stink, so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor.

NASB 1977
Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil stink, so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor.

Amplified Bible
Dead flies make the oil of the perfumer give off a foul odor; so a little foolishness [in one who is esteemed] outweighs wisdom and honor.

Christian Standard Bible
Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil ferment and stink; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Dead flies make a perfumer's oil ferment and stink; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.

American Standard Version
Dead flies cause the oil of the perfumer to send forth an evil odor;'so doth a little folly outweigh wisdom and honor.

Brenton Septuagint Translation
Pestilent flies will corrupt a preparation of sweet ointment: and a little wisdom is more precious than great glory of folly.

Contemporary English Version
A few dead flies in perfume make all of it stink, and a little foolishness outweighs a lot of wisdom.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Dying flies spoil the sweetness of the ointment. Wisdom and glory is more precious than a small and shortlived folly.

English Revised Version
Dead flies cause the ointment of the perfumer to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly outweigh wisdom and honour.

Good News Translation
Dead flies can make a whole bottle of perfume stink, and a little stupidity can cancel out the greatest wisdom.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Dead flies will make a bottle of perfume stink, and then it is spoiled. A little foolishness outweighs wisdom [and] honor.

International Standard Version
As dead flies cause the perfumer's ointment to stink, so also does a little foolishness to one's reputation of wisdom and honor.

JPS Tanakh 1917
Dead flies make the ointment of the perfumer fetid and putrid; So doth a little folly outweigh wisdom and honour.

Literal Standard Version
Dead flies cause a perfumer’s perfume "" To send forth a stink; The precious by reason of wisdom—By reason of honor—a little folly!

NET Bible
One dead fly makes the perfumer's ointment give off a rancid stench, so a little folly can outweigh much wisdom.

New Heart English Bible
Dead flies cause the oil of the perfumer to send forth an evil odor; so does a little folly outweigh wisdom and honor.

World English Bible
Dead flies cause the oil of the perfumer to send forth an evil odor; so does a little folly outweigh wisdom and honor.

Young's Literal Translation
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!

Additional Translations ...
Study Bible
Wisdom and Folly
1As dead flies bring a stench to the perfumer’s oil, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. 2A wise man’s heart inclines to the right, but the heart of a fool to the left.…

Cross References
Exodus 30:25
Prepare from these a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer; it will be a sacred anointing oil.

Job 6:3
For then it would outweigh the sand of the seas--no wonder my words have been rash.


Treasury of Scripture

Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking smell: so does a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor.

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: …

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.









Verses 1-3. - Section 11. A little folly mars the effect of wisdom, and is sure to make itself conspicuous. Verse 1. - Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor. This is a metaphorical confirmation of the truth enunciated at the end of the last chapter, "One sinner destroyeth much good." It is like the apostle's warning to his converts, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (1 Corinthians 5:6). The Hebrew expression is literally, "flies of death," which may mean either "dead flies," as in our version and the Vulgate (muses morientes), or "deadly, poisonous flies," as in the Septuagint (μυῖαι θανατοῦσαι). The latter rendering seems preferable, if we regard the use of similar compound phrases, e.g., "instruments of death" (Psalm 7:14: [13]); "snares of death" (Psalm 18:5); and in New Testament Greek, ἡ πληγὴ τοῦ θανάτου, "the death-stroke" (Revelation 13:3, 12). The flies meant are such as are poisonous in their bite, or carry infection with them. Such insects corrupt anything which they touch - food, ointment, whether they perish where they alight or not. They, as the Hebrew says, make to stink, make to ferment, the oil of the perfumer. The singular verb is here used with the plural subject to express the unity of the individuals, "flies" forming one complete idea. The Septuagint rendering omits one of the verbs: Σαμπιοῦσι σκευασίαν ἐλαίου ἡδύσματος, "Corrupt a preparation of sweet ointment." The point, of course, is the comparative insignificance of the cause which spoils a costly substance compounded with care and skill. Thus little faults mar great characters and reputations. "A good name is better than precious ointment" (Ecclesiastes 7:1), but a good name is ruined by follies, and then it stinks in men's nostrils. The term, "ointment of the apothecary," is used by Moses (Exodus 30:25, etc.) in describing the holy chrism which was reserved for special occasions. So doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor. The meaning of the Authorized Version is tolerably correct, but the actual rendering will hardly stand, and one wants some verb to govern "him that," etc. The other versions vary. Septuagint, "A little wisdom is more precious (τίμιον) than great glory of folly;" Vulgate, "More precious are wisdom and glory than small and short-lived folly;" Jerome, "Precious above wisdom and glory is a little folly." This last interpretation proceeds upon the idea that such "folly" is at any rate free from pride, and has few glaring faults. "Dulce est desipere in loco," says Horace ('Carm.,' 4:12. 28). But the original is best translated thus: "More weighty than wisdom, than honor, is a little folly." It is a painful fact that a little folly, one foolish act, one silly peculiarity of manner or disposition, will suffice to impair the real value of a matt's wisdom and the estimation in which he was held. The little clement of foolishness, like the little insect in the ointment, obscures the real excellence of the man, and deprives him of the honor that is really his due. And in religion we know that one fault unchecked, one Secret sin cherished, poisons the whole character, makes a man lose the grace of God. (For the same effect from another cause, see Ezekiel 3:20; Ezekiel 33:13.) Jerome sees in the "dead flies" wicked thoughts put into the Christian's mind by Beelzebub, "the lord of flies."

Parallel Commentaries ...


Lexicon
As dead
מָ֔וֶת (mā·weṯ)
Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 4194: Death, the dead, their place, state, pestilence, ruin

flies
זְב֣וּבֵי (zə·ḇū·ḇê)
Noun - masculine plural construct
Strong's Hebrew 2070: A fly

bring
יַבִּ֖יעַ (yab·bî·a‘)
Verb - Hifil - Imperfect - third person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 5042: To gush forth, to utter, to emit

a stench
יַבְאִ֥ישׁ (yaḇ·’îš)
Verb - Hifil - Imperfect - third person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 887: To smell bad, to be offensive

to the perfumer’s
רוֹקֵ֑חַ (rō·w·qê·aḥ)
Verb - Qal - Participle - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 7543: To mix or compound oil or ointment

oil,
שֶׁ֣מֶן (še·men)
Noun - masculine singular construct
Strong's Hebrew 8081: Grease, liquid, richness

so a little
מְעָֽט׃ (mə·‘āṭ)
Adjective - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 4592: A little, fewness, a few

folly
סִכְל֥וּת (siḵ·lūṯ)
Noun - feminine singular construct
Strong's Hebrew 5531: Silliness

outweighs
יָקָ֛ר (yā·qār)
Adjective - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 3368: Precious, rare, splendid, weighty

wisdom
מֵחָכְמָ֥ה (mê·ḥā·ḵə·māh)
Preposition-m | Noun - feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 2451: Wisdom

and honor.
מִכָּב֖וֹד (mik·kā·ḇō·wḏ)
Preposition-m | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 3519: Weight, splendor, copiousness


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Apothecary Bad Cause Dead Evil Flies Folly Foolishness Forth Glory Great Honor Honour Little Odor Offensive Oil Ointment Outweigh Outweighs Perfume Perfumer Precious Putrid Reason Reputation Savour Stink Valued Weightier Wisdom
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OT Poetry: Ecclesiastes 10:1 Dead flies cause the oil (Ecclesiast. Ec Ecc Eccles.)
Ecclesiastes 9:18
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