(hmt, 5:7). His civil conservatism is especially noticeable in his responses to the king.
Keep (rvmw) the king's command, and because of your sacred oath be not dismayed (lhb, ni.); go from his presence, do not
delay when the matter is unpleasant, for he does whatever he pleases. For the word of the king is supreme and who may say to him, "What are you doing?" He who obeys a com- mand will meet no harm, and the mind of a wise man will know the time and way.
One should not curse the king or the rich, because even when done in secret,
a bird of the air will carry your voice, or some winged creature tell the matter. Qoheleth 10:2090
This attitude is not limited to mundane considerations such as civil government and work. Qoheleth also applies this approach to morality. Righteous men perish in righteousness while the wicked sometimes live to a "ripe old-age" (7:15). Therefore, he advises against the extremes of excessive righteousness and wisdom as well as wickedness and folly (7:16-17). Thus, Qoheleth recommends "a sort of middle way, the path of least resistance."91
90 Cf. 7:21-22 where this attitude extends even to over- hearing other's talk, "lest you hear your servant cursing you."
91 Crenshaw, Old Testament Wisdom, p. 131; cf. Ginsburg, pp. 379-382; Scott, pp. 236-237; Gordis, Koheleth, pp. 176- 179, 275-278. Contra R. Whybray, "Qoheleth the Immoralist? (Qoh. 7:16-17)," in Israelite Wisdom, pp. 191-204.