New Living Translation
If a snake bites before you charm it, what's the use of being a snake charmer?
King James Bible
Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better.
Darby Bible Translation
If the serpent bite before enchantment, then the charmer hath no advantage.
World English Bible
If the snake bites before it is charmed, then is there no profit for the charmer's tongue.
Young's Literal Translation
If the serpent biteth without enchantment, Then there is no advantage to a master of the tongue.
Ecclesiastes 10:11 Parallel
CommentaryWesley's Notes on the Bible
10:11 Without - If not prevented by the art and care of the charmer; which practice he does not justify, but only mentions by way of resemblance.
It is not surprising that the book of Ecclesiastes had a struggle to maintain its place in the canon, and it was probably only its reputed Solomonic authorship and the last two verses of the book that permanently secured its position at the synod of Jamnia in 90 A.D. The Jewish scholars of the first century A.D. were struck by the manner in which it contradicted itself: e.g., "I praised the dead more than the living," iv. 2, "A living dog is better than a dead lion," ix. 4; but they were still more …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.
They spit venom like deadly snakes; they are like cobras that refuse to listen,
ignoring the tunes of the snake charmers, no matter how skillfully they play.
Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That's the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.
I will send these enemy troops among you like poisonous snakes you cannot charm. They will bite you, and you will die. I, the Lord, have spoken!"
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