Ecclesiastes 10:10
New International Version
If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.

New Living Translation
Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That's the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.

English Standard Version
If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed.

Berean Study Bible
If the ax is dull and the blade unsharpened, more strength must be exerted, but skill will produce success.

New American Standard Bible
If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success.

King James Bible
If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.

Christian Standard Bible
If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen its edge, then one must exert more strength; however, the advantage of wisdom is that it brings success.

Contemporary English Version
If you don't sharpen your ax, it will be harder to use; if you are wise, you'll know what to do.

Good News Translation
If your ax is dull and you don't sharpen it, you have to work harder to use it. It is smarter to plan ahead.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen its edge, then one must exert more strength; however, the advantage of wisdom is that it brings success.

International Standard Version
If someone's ax is blunt—the edge isn't sharpened— then more strength will be needed. Putting wisdom to work will bring success.

NET Bible
If an iron axhead is blunt and a workman does not sharpen its edge, he must exert a great deal of effort; so wisdom has the advantage of giving success.

New Heart English Bible
If the axe is blunt, and one doesn't sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but skill brings success.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
If an ax is blunt and the edge isn't sharpened, then one has to use more strength. But wisdom prepares the way for success.

JPS Tanakh 1917
If the iron be blunt, And one do not whet the edge, Then must he put to more strength; But wisdom is profitable to direct.

New American Standard 1977
If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success.

Jubilee Bible 2000
If the iron is blunt, and he does not whet the edge, then he must put forth more strength, but the advantages of wisdom excel.

King James 2000 Bible
If the iron is blunt, and he does not sharpen the edge, then must he use more strength: but wisdom helps one to succeed.

American King James Version
If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.

American Standard Version
If the iron be blunt, and one do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.

Brenton Septuagint Translation
If the axe-head should fall off, then the man troubles his countenance, and he must put forth more strength: and in that case skill is of no advantage to a man.

Douay-Rheims Bible
If the iron be blunt, and be not as before, but be made blunt, with much labour it shall be sharpened: and after industry shall follow wisdom.

Darby Bible Translation
If the iron be blunt, and one do not whet the edge, then must he apply more strength; but wisdom is profitable to give success.

English Revised Version
If the iron be blunt, and one do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.

Webster's Bible Translation
If the iron is blunt, and he doth not whet the edge, then must he use more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.

World English Bible
If the axe is blunt, and one doesn't sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but skill brings success.

Young's Literal Translation
If the iron hath been blunt, And he the face hath not sharpened, Then doth he increase strength, And wisdom is advantageous to make right.
Study Bible
Wisdom and Folly
9The one who quarries stones may be injured by them, and he who splits logs endangers himself. 10If the ax is dull and the blade unsharpened, more strength must be exerted, but skill will produce success. 11If the snake bites before it is charmed, there is no profit for the charmer.…
Cross References
Deuteronomy 32:41
when I sharpen My flashing sword, and My hand grasps it in judgment, I will take vengeance on My adversaries and repay those who hate Me.

Ecclesiastes 2:13
And I saw that wisdom exceeds folly, just as light exceeds darkness:

Ecclesiastes 10:9
The one who quarries stones may be injured by them, and he who splits logs endangers himself.

Ecclesiastes 10:11
If the snake bites before it is charmed, there is no profit for the charmer.

Treasury of Scripture

If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.

wisdom

Ecclesiastes 10:15
The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the city.

Ecclesiastes 9:15-17
Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man…

Genesis 41:33-39
Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt…







Lexicon
If
אִם־ (’im-)
Conjunction
Strong's Hebrew 518: Lo!, whether?, if, although, Oh that!, when, not

the ax
הַבַּרְזֶ֗ל (hab·bar·zel)
Article | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 1270: Iron, an iron implement

is dull
קֵהָ֣ה (qê·hāh)
Verb - Piel - Perfect - third person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 6949: To be blunt or dull

and
וְהוּא֙ (wə·hū)
Conjunctive waw | Pronoun - third person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 1931: He, self, the same, this, that, as, are

the blade
פָנִ֣ים (p̄ā·nîm)
Noun - masculine plural
Strong's Hebrew 6440: The face

unsharpened,
קִלְקַ֔ל (qil·qal)
Verb - Piel - Perfect - third person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 7043: To be slight, swift or trifling

more strength
וַחֲיָלִ֖ים (wa·ḥă·yā·lîm)
Conjunctive waw | Noun - masculine plural
Strong's Hebrew 2428: A force, an army, wealth, virtue, valor, strength

must be exerted,
יְגַבֵּ֑ר (yə·ḡab·bêr)
Verb - Piel - Imperfect - third person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 1396: To be strong, to prevail, act insolently

but skill
חָכְמָֽה׃ (ḥāḵ·māh)
Noun - feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 2451: Wisdom

will produce
וְיִתְר֥וֹן (wə·yiṯ·rō·wn)
Conjunctive waw | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 3504: Preeminence, gain

success.
הַכְשֵׁ֖ר‪‬הכשירהַכְשֵׁ֖ר‪‬ (haḵ·šêr)
Verb - Hifil - Infinitive construct
Strong's Hebrew 3787: To be advantageous, proper, or suitable, to succeed
(10) The wording of this verse in the original is very obscure; and we can only say of the rendering in the text that it seems to be preferred to any which it has been proposed to substitute for it. The mention of cutting wood in the preceding verse suggests the illustration from the axe, exemplifying how wisdom will serve instead of strength.

Iron.--2Kings 6:5; Isaiah 10:34; Proverbs 27:17.

Whet.--Ezekiel 21:21, where it is translated "make bright."

Edge.--Literally, face. We have often in Hebrew "mouth of the sword," for edge of the sword, but the only parallel for the expression "face" in that sense is in the highly poetical passage in Ezekiel 21:16, just referred to.

Must he put to more strength.--"Make his strength mighty," the words being nearly the same as in the phrase "mighty men of strength" (1Chronicles 7:5).

Verse 10. - If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge. The illustration at the end of the last verse is continued. The "iron" is the axe used in cutting wood; if this be blunted by the work to which it is put, and he, the laborer, has not sharpened the edge (Hebrew, the face, as in Ezekiel 21:1), what is the consequence? How is he to carry on his work? Then must he put to more strength. He must put more force in his blows, he must make up for the want of edge by added power and weight. This is the simplest explanation of the passage, which contains many linguistic difficulties. These may be seen discussed at length in the commentaries of Delitzsch, Wright, Nowack, etc. The translation of Ginsburg is not commendable, "If the axe be blunt, and he (the tyrant's opponent)do not sharpen it beforehand (phanim, taken as an adverb of time), he (the tyrant) shall only increase the army." The Septuagint is obscure, Ἐὰν ἐκπέσῃ τὸ σιδήριον καὶ αὐτὸς πρόσωπον ἐτάραξε καὶ δυνάμεις δυναμώσει, "If the axe should fall, then he troubles his face, and he shall strengthen his forces (? double his strength);" Vulgate, Si retusum fuerit ferrurn, et hoc non ut prius, sed hebetatum fuerit, multo labore exacuetur, "If the iron shall be blunted, and it be not as before, but have become dull, it shall be sharpened with much labor." But wisdom is profitable to direct; rather, the advantage of setting right is (on the side of) wisdom. Wisdom teaches how to conduct matters to a successful termination; for instance, it prompts the worker to sharpen his tool instead of trying to accomplish his task by an exertion of mere brute strength. The gnome applies to all the instances which have been mentioned above. Wisdom alone enables a man to meet and overcome the dangers and difficulties which beset his social, common, and political life. If we apply the whole sentence to the case of disaffection with the government or open rebellion, the caution given would signify - See that your means are adequate to the end, that your resources are sufficient to conduct your enterprise to success. Septuagint Vatican, Καὶ περίσσεια τῷ ἀνδρὶ οὐ σοφία, "And the advantage to man is not wisdom." But manuscripts A and C read, Καὶ περισσεια τοῦ αηνδρίου σοφία: Vulgate, Post industriam sequetur sapientia, "After industry shall follow wisdom." 10:4-10 Solomon appears to caution men not to seek redress in a hasty manner, nor to yield to pride and revenge. Do not, in a passion, quit thy post of duty; wait awhile, and thou wilt find that yielding pacifies great offences. Men are not preferred according to their merit. And those are often most forward to offer help, who are least aware of the difficulties, or the consequences. The same remark is applied to the church, or the body of Christ, that all the members should have the same care one for another.
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