2 I thought to myself, 1
“Come now, 2 I will try 3 self-indulgent pleasure 4 to see 5 if it is worthwhile.” 6
But I found 7 that it also is futile. 8
2 I said of partying, 9 “It is folly,”
and of self-indulgent pleasure, 10 “It accomplishes nothing!” 11
3 I thought deeply 12 about the effects of 13 indulging 14 myself 15 with wine
(all the while 16 my mind was guiding me 17 with wisdom) 18
and the effects of 19 behaving foolishly, 20
so that 21 I might discover what is profitable 22
for people 23 to do on earth 24 during the few days 25 of their lives.
4 I increased my possessions: 26
I built houses for myself; 27
I planted vineyards for myself.
5 I designed 28 royal gardens 29 and parks 30 for myself,
and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.
6 I constructed pools of water for myself,
to irrigate my grove 31 of flourishing trees.
7 I purchased male and female slaves,
and I owned slaves who were born in my house; 32
I also possessed more livestock – both herds and flocks –
than any of my predecessors in Jerusalem. 33
8 I also amassed silver and gold for myself,
as well as valuable treasures 34 taken from kingdoms and provinces. 35
I acquired male singers and female singers for myself,
and what gives a man sensual delight 36 – a harem of beautiful concubines! 37
9 So 38 I was far wealthier 39 than all my predecessors in Jerusalem,
yet I maintained my objectivity: 40
10 I did not restrain myself from getting whatever I wanted; 41
I did not deny myself anything that would bring me pleasure. 42
So all my accomplishments gave me joy; 43
this was my reward for all my effort. 44
11 Yet when I reflected on everything I had accomplished 45
and on all the effort that I had expended to accomplish it, 46
I concluded: 47 “All these 48 achievements and possessions 49 are ultimately 50 profitless 51 –
like chasing the wind!
There is nothing gained 52 from them 53 on earth.” 54
12 Next, I decided to consider 55 wisdom, as well as foolish behavior and ideas. 56
For what more can the king’s successor do than what the king 57 has already done?
13 I realized that wisdom is preferable to folly, 58
just as light is preferable to darkness:
14 The wise man can see where he is going, 59 but the fool walks in darkness.
Yet I also realized that the same fate 60 happens to them both. 61
15 So I thought to myself, “The fate of the fool will happen even to me! 62
Then what did I gain by becoming so excessively 63 wise?” 64
So I lamented to myself, 65
“The benefits of wisdom 66 are ultimately 67 meaningless!”
16 For the wise man, like 68 the fool, will not be remembered for very long, 69
because 70 in the days to come, both will already have been forgotten. 71
Alas, 72 the wise man dies – just like 73 the fool!
17 So I loathed 74 life 75 because what
happens 76 on earth 77 seems awful to me;
for all the benefits of wisdom 78 are futile – like chasing the wind.
18 So I loathed all the fruit of 79 my effort, 80
for which I worked so hard 81 on earth, 82
because 83 I must leave it 84 behind 85 in the hands of my successor. 86
19 Who knows if he will be a wise man or a fool?
Yet 87 he will be master over all the fruit of 88 my labor 89
for which I worked so wisely 90 on earth! 91
This also is futile!
20 So I began to despair 92 about all the fruit of 93 my labor 94
for which I worked so hard 95 on earth. 96
21 For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge, and skill;
however, he must hand over 97 the fruit of his labor 98 as an inheritance 99
to someone else who did not work for it.
This also is futile, and an awful injustice! 100
22 What does a man acquire from all his labor
and from the anxiety that accompanies his toil on earth? 101
23 For all day long 102 his work produces pain and frustration, 103
and even at night his mind cannot relax! 104
This also is futile!
24 There is nothing better for 105 people 106 than 107 to eat and drink,
and to find enjoyment 108 in their 109 work.
I also perceived that this ability to find enjoyment 110 comes from God. 111
25 For no one 112 can eat and drink 113
or experience joy 114 apart from him. 115
26 For to the one who pleases him, 116 God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy,
but to the sinner, he gives the task of amassing 117 wealth 118 –
only to give 119 it 120 to the one who pleases God.
This 121 task of the wicked 122 is futile – like chasing the wind!
3 For everything 1 there is an appointed time, 2
and an appropriate time 3 for every activity 4 on earth: 5
2 A time to be born, 6 and a time to die; 7
a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
5 A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to search, and a time to give something up as lost; 8
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7 A time to rip, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent, and a time to speak.
8 A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
9 What benefit can a worker 9 gain from his toil? 10
10 I have observed the burden
that God has given to people 11 to keep them occupied.
11 God has made everything fit beautifully 12 in its appropriate time,
but 13 he has also placed ignorance 14 in the human heart 15
so that 16 people 17 cannot discover what God has ordained, 18
from the beginning to the end 19 of their lives. 20
12 I have concluded 21 that there is nothing better for people 22
than 23 to be happy and to enjoy
themselves 24 as long as they live,
13 and also that everyone should eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all his toil,
for these things 25 are a gift from God.
14 I also know that whatever God does will endure forever;
nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken away from it.
God has made it this way, so that men will fear him.
15 Whatever exists now has already been, and whatever will be has already been;
for God will seek to do again 26 what has occurred 27 in the past. 28
16 I saw something else on earth: 29
In the place of justice, there was wickedness,
and in the place of fairness, 30 there was wickedness.
17 I thought to myself, “God will judge both the righteous and the wicked;
for there is an appropriate time for every activity,
and there is a time of judgment 31 for every deed.
18 I also thought to myself, “It is 32 for the sake of people, 33
so God can clearly 34 show 35 them that they are like animals.
19 For the fate of humans 36 and the fate of animals are the same:
As one dies, so dies the other; both have the same breath.
There is no advantage for humans over animals,
for both are fleeting.
20 Both go to the same place,
both come from the dust,
and to dust both return.
21 Who really knows if the human spirit 37 ascends upward,
and the animal’s spirit descends into the earth?
22 So I perceived there is nothing better than for people 38 to enjoy their work, 39
because that is their 40 reward;
for who can show them what the future holds? 41
4 So 1 I again considered 2 all the oppression 3 that continually occurs 4 on earth. 5
This is what I saw: 6
The oppressed 7 were in tears, 8 but no one was comforting them;
no one delivers 9 them from the power of their oppressors. 10
2 So I considered 11 those who are dead and gone 12
more fortunate than those who are still alive. 13
3 But better than both is the one who has not been born 14
and has not seen the evil things that are done on earth. 15
4 Then I considered 16 all the skillful work 17 that is done:
Surely it is nothing more than 18 competition 19 between one person and another. 20
This also is profitless – like 21 chasing the wind.
5 The fool folds his hands and does no work, 22
so he has nothing to eat but his own flesh. 23
6 Better is one handful with some rest
than two hands full of toil 24 and chasing the wind.
7 So 25 I again considered 26 another 27 futile thing on earth: 28
8 A man who is all alone with no companion, 29
he has no children nor siblings; 30
yet there is no end to all his toil,
and he 31 is never satisfied with riches.
He laments, 32 “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself 33 of pleasure?” 34
This also is futile and a burdensome task! 35
9 Two people are better than one,
because they can reap 36 more benefit 37 from their labor.
10 For if they fall, one will help his companion up,
but pity 38 the person who falls down and has no one to help him up.
11 Furthermore, if two lie down together, they can keep each other warm,
but how can one person keep warm by himself?
12 Although an assailant may overpower 39 one person,
two can withstand him.
Moreover, a three-stranded cord is not quickly broken.
13 A poor but wise youth is better than an old and foolish king
who no longer knows how to receive advice.
14 For he came out of prison 40 to become king,
even though he had been born poor in what would become his 41 kingdom.
15 I considered all the living who walk on earth, 42
as well as the successor 43 who would arise 44 in his place.
16 There is no end to all the people 45 nor to the past generations, 46
yet future generations 47 will not rejoice in him.
This also is profitless and like 48 chasing the wind.