I tried cheering myself with wine,1 and embracing folly2--my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives.
I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself3 and planted vineyards.45
I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.
I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees.
I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves5 who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me.
I amassed silver and gold6 for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces.7 I acquired men and women singers,8 and a harema as well--the delights of the heart of man.
I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem9 before me.10 In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;11 nothing was gained under the sun.12
Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly.13 What more can the king's successor do than what has already been done?1413
I saw that wisdom15 is better than folly,16 just as light is better than darkness.