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  Ecclesiastes

1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 2Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; vanity of vanities, all is vanity. 3What profit has man of all his labor wherein he labors under the sun?

4One generation goes, and another generation comes; but the earth abides for ever. 5The sun also arises, and the sun goes down, and hurries to its place where it arises. 6The wind go toward the south, and turns about unto the north; it turns about continually in its course, and the wind returns again to its circuits. 7All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; unto the place where the rivers go, there they go again. 8All things are full of weariness; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

9That which has been is that which shall be; and that which has been done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. 10Is there a thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it has been long ago, in the ages which were before us. 11There is no remembrance of the former generations; neither shall there be any remembrance of the latter generations that are to come, among those that shall come after.

12I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven: it is a greatly travail that God has given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith. 14I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. 15That which is crooked cannot be made straight; and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. 16I communed with my own heart, saying, Lo, I have gotten me great wisdom above all that were before me in Jerusalem; yes, my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. 17And I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also was a striving after wind. 18For in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow.

 

2 I said in my heart, Come now, I will prove you with joy; therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also was vanity. 2I said of laughter, It is mad; and of joy, What does it? 3I searched in my heart how to cheer my flesh with wine, my heart yet guiding me with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men that they should do under heaven all the days of their life. 4I made great works for myself; I built houses; I planted vineyards; 5I made gardens and parks, and I planted trees in them of all kinds of fruit; 6I made pools of water, to water there from the forest where trees were reared; 7I bought men-servants and maid-servants, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of herds and flocks, above all that were before me in Jerusalem; 8I gathered also silver and gold, and the treasure of kings and of the provinces; I got men-singers and women-singers, and the delights of the sons of men, musical instruments, and that of all sorts. 9So that I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. 10And whatsoever my eyes desired I kept not from them; I did not withhold my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced because of all my labor; and this was my portion from all my labor. 11Then I looked on all the works that my hands had worked, and on the labor that I had labored to do; and, behold, all was vanity and as striving after wind, and there was no profit therein under the sun.

12And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that comes after the king? even that which has been done long ago. 13Then I saw that wisdom excels folly, as far as light excels darkness. 14The wise manís eyes are in his head, and the fool walks in darkness: and yet I perceived that one event happened to them all. 15Then said I in my heart, As it happened to the fool, so will it happen even to me; and why then was I more wise? Then said I in my heart, that this also is vanity. 16For of the wise man, even as of the fool, there is no remembrance for ever; seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. And how does the wise man die even as the fool!

17So I hated life, because the work that is worked under the sun was grievous unto me; for all is vanity and a striving after wind. 18And I hated all my labor wherein I labored under the sun, seeing that I must leave it unto the man that shall be after me. 19And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? yet will he have rule over all my labor wherein I have labored, and wherein I have showed myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity. 20Therefore I turned about to cause my heart to despair concerning all the labor wherein I had labored under the sun. 21For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, and with knowledge, and with skillfulness; yet to a man that has not labored therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22For what has a man of all his labor, and of the striving of his heart, wherein he labors under the sun? 23For all his days are but sorrows, and his travail is grief; yes, even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity. 24There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it is from the hand of God. 25For who can eat, or who can have enjoyment, more than I? 26For to the man that pleases him God gives wisdom, and knowledge, and joy; but to the sinner he gives travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

 

3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: 2a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. 9What profit has he that works in that wherein he labors? 10I have seen the travail which God has given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith.

11He has made everything beautiful in its time: also he has set eternity in their heart, yet so that man cannot find out the work that God has done from the beginning even to the end. 12I know that there is nothing better for them, than to rejoice, and to do good so long as they live. 13And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy good in all his labor, is the gift of God. 14I know that, whatsoever God does, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it; and God has done it, that men should fear before him. 15That which is has been long ago; and that which is to be has long ago been: and God seeks again that which is passed away.

16And moreover I saw under the sun, in the place of justice, that wickedness was there; and in the place of righteousness, that wickedness was there. 17I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked; for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work. 18I said in my heart, It is because of the sons of men, that God may prove them, and that they may see that they themselves are but as beasts. 19For that which befalls the sons of men befalls beasts; even one thing befalls them: as the one dies, so dies the other; yes, they have all one breath; and man has no preeminence above the beasts: for all is vanity. 20All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. 21Who knows the spirit of man, whether it go upward, and the spirit of the beast, whether it go downward to the earth? 22why I saw that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him back to see what shall be after him?

 

4 Then I returned and saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and, behold, the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. 2why I praised the dead that have been long dead more than the living that are yet alive; 3yous, better than them both did I esteem them that have not yet been, who have not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

4Then I saw all labor and every skilful work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. 5The fool folds his hands together, and eats his own flesh. 6Better is a handful, with quietness, than two handfuls with labor and striving after wind.

7Then I returned and saw vanity under the sun. 8There is one that is alone, and he has not a second; yes, he has neither son nor brother; yet is there no end of all his labor, neither are his eyes satisfied with riches. For whom then, says he, do I labor, and deprive my soul of good? This also is vanity, yes, it is a greatly travail. 9Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. 10For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falls, and has not another to lift him up. 11Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? 12And if a man prevail against him that is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

13Better is a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king, who knows not how to receive admonition any more. 14For out of prison he came forth to be king; yes, even in his kingdom he was born poor. 15I saw all the living that walk under the sun, that they were with the youth, the second, that stood up in his stead. 16There was no end of all the people, even of all them over whom he was: yet they that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.

 

5 Keep your foot when you go to the house of God; for to draw near to hear is better than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they know not that they do evil. 2Be not rash with your mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and you are upon earth: therefore let your words be few. 3For a dream comes with a multitude of business, and a foolís voice with a multitude of words.

4When you vow a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he has no pleasure in fools: pay that which you vow. 5Better is it that you should not vow, than that you should vow and not pay. 6Suffer not your mouth to cause your flesh to sin; neither say before the angel, that it was an error: why God should be angry at your voice, and destroy the work of your hands? 7For in the multitude of dreams there are vanities, and in many words: but you are to fear God. 8If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent taking away of justice and righteousness in a province, marvel not at the matter: for one higher than the high regards; and there are higher than they.

9Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field. 10He that loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loves abundance, with increase: this also is vanity. 11When goods increase, they that eat them are increased; and what advantage is there to the owner thereof, save the beholding of them with his eyes? 12The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much; but the fulness of the rich will not suffer him to sleep. 13There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept by the owner thereof to his own hurt: 14and those riches perish by evil adventure; and if he has begotten a son, there is nothing in his hand. 15As he came forth from his motherís womb, naked shall he go again as he came, and shall take nothing for his labor, which he may carry away in his hand. 16And this also is a grievous evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit has he that he labors for the wind? 17All his days also he eats in darkness, and he is greatly vexed, and has sickness and wrath.

18Behold, that which I have seen to be good and to be comely is for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy good in all his labor, wherein he labors under the sun, all the days of his life which God has given him: for this is his portion. 19Every man also to whom God has given riches and wealth, and has given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor--this is the gift of God. 20For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answered him in the joy of his heart.

 

6 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is heavy upon men: 2a man to whom God gives riches, wealth, and honor, so that he lacks nothing for his soul of all that he desires, yet God gives him not power to eat thereof, but an alien eats it; this is vanity, and it is an evil disease. 3If a man beget a hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul be not filled with good, and moreover that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he: 4for it comes in vanity, and departs in darkness, and the name thereof is covered with darkness; 5moreover it has not seen the sun nor known it; this has rest rather than the other: 6yous, though he live a thousand years twice told, and yet enjoy no good, do not all go to one place?

7All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled. 8For what advantage has the wise more than the fool? or what has the poor man, that knows how to walk before the living? 9Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this also is vanity and a striving after wind. 10Whatsoever has been, the name thereof was given long ago; and it is known what man is; neither can he contend with him that is mightier than he.

11Seeing there are many things that increase vanity, what is man the better? 12For who knows what is good for man in his life, all the days of his vain life which he spends as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?

 

7 A good name is better than precious oil; and the day of death, than the day of oneís birth. 2It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. 3Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made glad. 4The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of joy. 5It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools. 6For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.

7Surely extortion makes the wise man foolish; and a bribe destroys the understanding. 8Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof; and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. 9Be not hasty in your spirit to be angry; for anger rests in the bosom of fools. 10Say not, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for you do not inquire wisely concerning this.

11Wisdom is as good as an inheritance; yes, more excellent is it for them that see the sun. 12For wisdom is a defense, even as money is a defense; but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom preserves the life of him that has it. 13Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he has made crooked? 14In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; yes, God has made the one side by side with the other, to the end that man should not find out anything that shall be after him. 15All this have I seen in my days of vanity: there is a righteous man that perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongs his life in his evil-doing. 16Be not righteous overmuch; neither make yourself overwise: why should you destroy yourself? 17Be not wicked overmuch, neither be foolish: why should you die before your time? 18It is good that you should take hold of this; yes, also from that withdraw not your hand: for he that fears God shall come forth from them all. 19Wisdom is a strength to the wise man more than ten rulers that are in a city. 20Surely there is not a righteous man upon earth, that does good, and sins not. 21Also do not take heed unto all words that are spoken, unless you hear your servant curse you; 22for oftentimes also your own heart knows that you yourself likewise has cursed others.

23All this have I proved in wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me. 24That which is, is far off and exceedingly deep; who can find it out? 25I turned about, and my heart was set to know and to search out, and to seek wisdom and the reason of things, and to know that wickedness is folly, and that foolishness is madness: 26And I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are bands: whoever pleases God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her. 27Behold, this have I found, says the Preacher, laying one thing to another, to find out the account; 28which my soul still seeks, but I have not found: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found. 29Behold, this only have I found: that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

 

8 Who is as the wise man? and who knows the interpretation of a thing? A manís wisdom makes his face to shine, and the hardness of his face is changed. 2I counsel you, Keep the kingís command, and that in regard of the oath of God. 3Be not hasty to go out of his presence; persist not in an evil thing: for he does whatsoever pleases him. 4For the kingís word has power; and who may say unto him, What do you do? 5whoever keeps the commandment shall know no evil thing; and a wise manís heart discerns time and judgment:

6for to every purpose there is a time and judgment; because the misery of man is great upon him: 7for he knows not that which shall be; for who can tell him how it shall be? 8There is no man that has power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither has he power over the day of death; and there is no discharge in war: neither shall wickedness deliver him that is given to it.

9All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man has power over another to his hurt. 10So I saw the wicked buried, and they came and went from the place of the holy. and were forgotten in the city: this also is vanity. 11Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. 12yough a sinner do evil a hundred times, and prolong his days, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, that fear before him: 13but it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he fears not before God.

14There is a vanity which is done upon the earth, that there are righteous men unto whom it happened according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men to whom it happened according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity. 15Then I commended festivity, because a man has no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be joyful: for that shall abide with him in his labor all the days of his life which God has given him under the sun. 16When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth (for also there is he that neither day nor night sees sleep with his eyes), 17then I beheld all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because however much a man labor to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yes moreover, though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.

 

9 For all this I laid to my heart, even to explore all this: that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God; whether it be love or hatred, man knows it not; all is before them. 2All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean and to the unclean; to him that sacrifices and to him that sacrifices not; as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that swears, as he that fears an oath. 3This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yes also, the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

4For to him that is joined with all the living there is hope; for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. 6As well their love, as their hatred and their envy, is perished long ago; neither have they any more a portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun. 7Go your way, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works. 8Let your garments be always white; and let not your head lack oil. 9Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your life of vanity, which he has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity: for that is your portion in life, and in your labor wherein you labor under the sun. 10Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, where you go.

11I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happened to them all. 12For man also knows not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, even so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them.

13I have also seen wisdom under the sun in this way, and it seemed great unto me: 14There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it. 15Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man. 16Then I said, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor manís wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. 17The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the cry of him that rules among fools. ** 18Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroys much good.

 

10 Dead flies cause the oil of the perfumer to send forth an evil odor; so does a little folly outweigh wisdom and honor. 2A wise manís heart is at his right hand; but a foolís heart at his left. 3yous also, when the fool walks by the way, his understanding fails him, and he says to every one that he is a fool.

4If the spirit of the ruler rise up against you, leave not your place; for gentleness alleviates great offences. 5There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as it were an error which proceeds from the ruler: 6folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in a low place. 7I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking like servants upon the earth. 8He that digs a pit shall fall into it; and whoever breaks through a wall, a serpent shall bite him. 9whoever hews out stones shall be hurt therewith; and he that clings wood is endangered thereby. 10If the iron be blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct. 11If the serpent bite before it is charmed, then is there no advantage in the charmer.

12The words of a wise manís mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. 13The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness; and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. 14A fool also multiplies words: yet man knows not what shall be; and that which shall be after him, who can tell him? 15The labor of fools wearies every one of them; for he knows not how to go to the city.

16Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes eat in the morning! 17Happy are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness! 18By slothfulness the roof sinks in; and through idleness of the hands the house leaks. 19A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes glad the life; and money answers all things. 20Revile not the king, no, not in your thought; and revile not the rich in your bedchamber: for a bird of the heavens shall carry the voice, and that which has wings shall tell the matter.

 

11 Cast your bread upon the waters; for you shall find it after many days. 2Give a portion to seven, yes, even unto eight; for you know not what evil shall be upon the earth. 3If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth; and if a tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falls, there shall it be. 4He that observes the wind shall not sow; and he that regards the clouds shall not reap. 5As you know not what is the way of the wind, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child; even so you know not the work of God who does all. 6In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening withhold not your hand; for you know not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.

7Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun. 8yous, if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many. All that comes is vanity. 9Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but you must know, that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. 10Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh; for yeth and the dawn of life are vanity.

 

12 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw near, when you shall say, I have no pleasure in them; 2before the sun, and the light, and the moon, and the stars, are darkened, and the clouds return after the rain; 3in the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows shall be darkened, 4and the doors shall be shut in the street; when the sound of the grinding is low, and one shall rise up at the voice of a bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low; 5yous, they shall be afraid of that which is high, and terrors shall be in the way; and the almond-tree shall blossom, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail; because man goes to his everlasting home, and the mourners go about the streets: 6before the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, 7and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns unto God who gave it.

8Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity. 9And further, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. 10The Preacher sought to find out acceptable words, and that which was written uprightly, even words of truth. 11The words of the wise are as goads; and as nails well fastened are the words of the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. 12And furthermore, my son, be admonished: the making of many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

13Let us hear the conclusion of the matter: fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. 14For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

   

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  All text copyright © 2005 Aaron Randall. All rights reserved.  Photos, unless otherwise credited, are the property of the auth, all rights reserved.  Originally posted February 24, 2004.  Revised: April 07, 2010.