Ecclesiastes 7:7 NIV
7 Extortion turns a wise person into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart.
Ecclesiastes 7:7 EXB
7 Even wise people are fools if they let ·money change their thinking [L a bribe distort their understanding].
Some commentaries believe a verse or phrase is missing between verses six and seven, but there is no real evidence of this and the verse stands on its own. The second version above does not have the word heart, but the majority of translations do. However, the EXB version gave me some additional insight with its literal bracketed addition.
So Extortion turns a wise person into a fool, how does that happen? Consider if you are the one doing the extorting of money that is obtaining money from another by force or threat of force. Or consider it sometimes simply means charging a very high price when you know someone is in desperate need. The first is criminal and the second is clearly immoral. Both make a person a fool which biblically is a wicked (especially impious) or vile person – Strong’s Definitions – not the silly person we would suppose today when someone is called a fool.
Then there is a bribe corrupts the heart, which I imagine most of us would understand. One takes a bribe to do the right thing after refusing to do so or takes a bribe to approve something that should not be approved. The first is related to extortion and the second to greed. In fact both are tied directly to greed, wanting something undeserved and unearned, driven by the desire for more. Surely such activities will corrupt the heart or as the literal EXB says distort their understanding of right and wrong.
Such people become ever more corrupt and fail to see anything wrong in what they do. Even worse as their corruption grows, more and more wicked acts are accepted as permissible. There is great danger here or as Paul says in Galatians 6
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their sinful nature, from their sinful nature will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Such a person should turn from their ways and seek God because even though God cannot be mocked He is incredibly forgiving.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. John 3