1 The words of the spokesman, the son of David and the king in Jerusalem. 2 "Absolutely pointless!" says the spokesman. "Absolutely pointless! Everything is pointless." 3 What do people gain from all their hard work under the sun? 4 Generations come, and generations go, but the earth lasts forever. 5 The sun rises, and the sun sets, and then it rushes back to the place where it will rise [again]. 6 The wind blows toward the south and shifts toward the north. Round and round it blows. It blows in a full circle. 7 All streams flow into the sea, but the sea is never full. The water goes back to the place where the streams began in order to [start] flowing again. 8 All of these sayings are worn-out phrases. They are more than anyone can express, comprehend, or understand. 9 Whatever has happened before will happen [again]. Whatever has been done before will be done [again]. There is nothing new under the sun. 10 Can you say that anything is new? It has already been here long before us. 11 Nothing from the past is remembered. Even in the future, nothing will be remembered by those who come after us. 12 I, the spokesman, have been king of Israel in Jerusalem. 13 With all my heart I used wisdom to study and explore everything done under heaven. Mortals are weighed down with a terrible burden that God has placed on them. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun. Look at it! It's all pointless. [It's like] trying to catch the wind. 15 No one can straighten what is bent. No one can count what is not there. 16 I thought to myself, "I have grown wiser than anyone who [has ruled] Jerusalem before me. I've had a lot of experience with wisdom and knowledge." 17 I've used my mind to understand wisdom and knowledge as well as madness and stupidity. [Now] I know that this is [like] trying to catch the wind. 18 With a lot of wisdom [comes] a lot of heartache. The greater [your] knowledge, the greater [your] pain.
1 I thought to myself, "Now I want to experiment with pleasure and enjoy myself." But even this was pointless. 2 I thought, "Laughter doesn't make any sense. What does pleasure accomplish?" 3 I explored ways to make myself feel better by drinking wine. I also explored ways to do [some] foolish things. During all that time, wisdom continued to control my mind. I was able to determine whether this was good for mortals to do during their brief lives under heaven. 4 I accomplished some great things: I built houses for myself. I planted vineyards for myself. 5 I made gardens and parks for myself. I planted every kind of fruit tree in them. 6 I made pools to water the forest of growing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves. In addition, slaves were born in my household. I owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I also gathered silver and gold for myself. I gathered the treasures of kings and provinces. I provided myself with male and female singers and the pleasures men have with one concubine after another. 9 So I grew richer than anyone in Jerusalem before me. Yet, my wisdom remained with me. 10 If something appealed to me, I did it. I allowed myself to have any pleasure I wanted, since I found pleasure in my work. This was my reward for all my hard work. 11 But when I turned to look at all that I had accomplished and all the hard work I had put into it, I saw that it was all pointless. [It was like] trying to catch the wind. I gained nothing [from any of my accomplishments] under the sun. 12 Then I turned [my attention] to experience wisdom, madness, and foolishness. For instance, what can the man who replaces the king do? Only what has already been done. 13 But I saw that wisdom has an advantage over foolishness as light has an advantage over darkness. 14 A wise person uses the eyes in his head, but a fool walks in the dark. But I have also come to realize that the same destiny waits for both of them. 15 I thought to myself, "[If] the destiny that waits for the fool waits for me as well, then what is the advantage in being wise?" So I thought that even this is pointless. 16 Neither the wise person nor the fool will be remembered for long, since both will be forgotten in the days to come. Both the wise person and the fool will die. 17 So I came to hate life because everything done under the sun seemed wrong to me. Everything was pointless. [It was like] trying to catch the wind. 18 I came to hate everything for which I had worked so hard under the sun, because I will have to leave it to the person who replaces me. 19 Who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? He will still have control over everything under the sun for which I worked so hard and used my wisdom. Even this is pointless. 20 Then I fell into despair over everything for which I had worked so hard under the sun. 21 Here is someone who had worked hard with wisdom, knowledge, and skill. Yet, he must turn over his estate to someone else, who didn't work for it. Even this is pointless and a terrible tragedy. 22 What do people get from all of their hard work and struggles under the sun? 23 Their entire life is filled with pain, and their work is unbearable. Even at night their minds don't rest. Even this is pointless. 24 There is nothing better for people to do than to eat, drink, and find satisfaction in their work. I saw that even this comes from the hand of God. 25 Who can eat or enjoy themselves without God? 26 God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to anyone who pleases him. But to the person who continues to sin, he gives the job of gathering and collecting [wealth]. The sinner must turn his wealth over to the person who pleases God. Even this is pointless. [It's like] trying to catch the wind.
1 Everything has its own time, and there is a specific time for every activity under heaven: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pull out what was planted, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build up, 4 a time to cry and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to hug and a time to stop hugging, 6 a time to start looking and a time to stop looking, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear apart and a time to sew together, a time to keep quiet and a time to speak out, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. 9 What do working people gain from their hard labor? 10 I have seen mortals weighed down with a burden that God has placed on them. 11 It is beautiful how God has done everything at the right time. He has put a sense of eternity in people's minds. Yet, mortals still can't grasp what God is doing from the beginning to the end [of time]. 12 I realize that there's nothing better for them to do than to be cheerful and enjoy what is good in their lives. 13 It is a gift from God to be able to eat and drink and experience the good that comes from every kind of hard work. 14 I realize that whatever God does will last forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing can be taken away from it. God does this so that people will fear him. 15 Whatever has happened [in the past] is present now. Whatever is going to happen [in the future] has already happened [in the past]. God will call the past to account. 16 I saw something else under the sun: There is wickedness where justice should be found. There is wickedness where righteousness should be found. 17 I thought to myself, "God will judge righteous people as well as wicked people, because there is a specific time for every activity and every work that is done." 18 I thought to myself, "God is going to test humans in order to show them that they are [like] animals." 19 Humans and animals have the same destiny. One dies just like the other. All of them have the same breath [of life]. Humans have no advantage over animals. All [of life] is pointless. 20 All [life] goes to the same place. All [life] comes from the ground, and all of it goes back to the ground. 21 Who knows whether a human spirit goes upward or whether an animal spirit goes downward to the earth? 22 I saw that there's nothing better for people to do than to enjoy their work because that is their lot [in life]. Who will allow them to see what will happen after them?
1 Next, I turned to look at all the acts of oppression that make people suffer under the sun. Look at the tears of those who suffer! No one can comfort them. Their oppressors have [all] the power. No one can comfort those who suffer. 2 I congratulate the dead, who have already died, rather than the living, who still have to carry on. 3 But the person who hasn't been born yet is better off than both of them. He hasn't seen the evil that is done under the sun. 4 Then I saw that all hard work and skillful effort come from rivalry. Even this is pointless. [It's like] trying to catch the wind. 5 A fool folds his hands and wastes away. 6 One handful of peace and quiet is better than two handfuls of hard work and of trying to catch the wind. 7 Next, I turned to look at something pointless under the sun: 8 There are people who are all alone. They have no children or other family members. So there is no end to all the hard work they have to do. Their eyes are never satisfied with riches. But [they never ask themselves] why they are working so hard and depriving themselves of good things. Even this is pointless and a terrible tragedy. 9 Two people are better than one because [together] they have a good reward for their hard work. 10 If one falls, the other can help his friend get up. But how tragic it is for the one who is [all] alone when he falls. There is no one to help him get up. 11 Again, if two people lie down together, they can keep warm, but how can one person keep warm? 12 Though one person may be overpowered by another, two people can resist one opponent. A triple-braided rope is not easily broken. 13 A young man who is poor and wise is better than an old, foolish king who won't take advice any longer. 14 A young man came out of prison to rule as king, even though he had been born in poverty in that same kingdom. 15 I saw all living people moving about under the sun. They sided with the second young man, the king's successor. 16 There was no end to all those people, everyone whom he led. But those who will come later will not be happy with the successor. Even this is pointless. [It's like] trying to catch the wind.