“Whoever touches pitch
With a proud person
Becomes like him.
Do not lift a weight
Too heavy for you.
Do not associate
With one mightier than you.
Do not associate
With one richer than you.
How can the clay pot associate
With the iron kettle?
The pot will strike against it.
The clay pot will be smashed.”
Be careful in your life. Do not touch the black pitch or you will get dirty. If you associate with proud people, you will become proud like them. Do not lift things that are too heavy for you. Do not associate with someone richer than you are. Otherwise you will be like the poor clay pot that gets smashed by the rich iron kettle, which is reminiscent of one of Aesop’s fables.
“I made great works.
I built houses.
I planted vineyards for myself.
I made myself gardens.
I made myself parks.
I planted in them
All kinds of fruit trees.
I made myself pools from which
To water the forest of growing trees.
I bought male slaves.
I bought female slaves.
I had slaves who were born in my house.
I had great possessions of herds.
I also had great possessions of flocks.
More than any
Who had been before me in Jerusalem.
I also gathered for myself
Silver and gold
From the treasure of kings and provinces.
I got singers,
Both men and women.
I enjoyed the delights of the flesh
With many concubines.”
Qoheleth continued his first person singular narrative. Was it all about him? He built great houses and vineyards just for himself. He made his own gardens and parks, all full of great fruit trees. He put in ponds besides the trees for irrigation. He bought both male and female servants. He created his own slaves by having them procreate in his house. He had great herds and flocks of animals and birds. He was richer than any man who had ever lived in Jerusalem. He gathered gold and silver from the various kings and provinces. He had male and female singers. Of course, he had many concubines to delight him. This was the life of luxury of a rich powerful self indulgent king of Jerusalem.
“Some give freely.
Yet they grow all the richer.
Others withhold what is due.
But they only suffer want.
A generous person will be enriched.
One who gives water will get water.
The people curse those who hold back grain.
But a blessing is on the head of those who sell it.
Whoever diligently seeks good things seeks favor.
But evil comes to the one who searches for it.
Those who trust in their riches will wither.
But the righteous will flourish like green leaves.”
There is a need for generosity. Those people who give freely usually grow richer. Those who withhold what is due only suffer more wanting of things. A generous person will be enriched. If you give water, you will get water. If you hold back your grain, hoping for a higher price, you will be cursed. However, you will be blessed if you sell it to others in the normal course of the harvest. If you are seeking good things, you will be favored. If you are looking for evil, you will find it. If you trust in your wealth, it will wither away on you. However, if you are righteous, you will flourish like green leaves on a tree.