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Ecclesiastes 10:13-14


10:13 At the beginning his words 1  are foolish

and at the end 2  his talk 3  is wicked madness, 4 

10:14 yet a fool keeps on babbling. 5 

No one knows what will happen;

who can tell him what will happen in the future? 6 

1 tn Heb “the words of his mouth.”

2 sn The terms “beginning” and “end” form a merism, a figure of speech in which two opposites are contrasted to indicate totality (e.g., Deut 6:7; Ps 139:8; Eccl 3:2-8). The words of a fool are madness from “start to finish.”

3 tn Heb “his mouth.”

4 tn Heb “madness of evil.”

5 tn Heb “and the fool multiplies words.” This line is best taken as the third line of a tricola encompassing 10:13-14a (NASB, NRSV, NJPS, Moffatt) rather than the first line of a tricola encompassing 10:14 (KJV, NEB, RSV, NAB, ASV, NIV). Several versions capture the sense of this line well: “a fool prates on and on” (Moffatt) and “Yet the fool talks and talks!” (NJPS).

6 tn Heb “after him”; or “after he [dies].”

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