1 The words of the Teacher,a the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

References for Ecclesiastes 1:1

    • a 1:1 - Hebrew "Qohelet"

      Motto Introduced

      2 "Vanity of vanities!" says the Teacher,b "Vanity of vanities! All [is] vanity!"

      References for Ecclesiastes 1:2

        • b 1:2 - Hebrew "Qohelet"

          All Toil is Profitless and Repetitious

          3 What does a person gain in all his toil with which he toils under the sun?

          References for Ecclesiastes 1:3

              4 A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth stands forever.
              5 The sun rises, and the sun goes down; to its place it hurries,c and there it rises again.

              References for Ecclesiastes 1:5

                • c 1:5 - The MT reads "[it] gasps [for breath]," which is supported by LXX "to draw [breath]"; the BHS editors suggest "[it] returns again"
                  6 The wind goes to the south and goes around to the north; around and around it goes, and on its circuit the wind returns.
                  7 All the streams flow to the sea, but the sea is never full; to the place where the streams flow, there they continue to flow.
                  8 All things toil continuously;d no one can ever finish describing this.e The eye is neverf satisfied with seeing, and the ear is neverg filled with hearing.

                  References for Ecclesiastes 1:8

                    • d 1:8 - Or "are wearisome"
                    • e 1:8 - The MT reads "no one is able to speak." The BHS editors suggest "no one can finish speaking." On the basis of internal evidence, the latter is adopted in the translation, since it makes better sense in the light of the immediate context
                    • f 1:8 - Or "not"
                    • g 1:8 - Or "not"
                      9 What has been--it is what will be; what has been done--it is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.
                      10 There is a thing [of] which it is said, "Look at this! This is new!" [But] it already existed in ages past before us.
                      11 There is neither remembrance of former generations, nor will there be remembrance of future generations.

                      Qohelet Introduces His Quest

                      12 I, the Teacher,h [was] king over Israel in Jerusalem.

                      References for Ecclesiastes 1:12

                        • h 1:12 - Hebrew "Qohelet"
                          13 I applied my mind to seek and to search by wisdom all that is done under the heavens.i It [is] a grievous task God has given to {humans}.j

                          References for Ecclesiastes 1:13

                            • i 1:13 - MT reads "under the heavens," which is supported by LXX; however, several versions (Syriac Peshitta, Aramaic Targum, Latin Vulgate) as well as the Cairo Geniza manuscript read, "under the sun," cf. 1:3, 9, etc.
                            • j 1:13 - Literally "the sons of the man"
                              14 I saw all the works that are done under the sun. Look! Everything [is] vanity and chasing wind.
                              15 What is twisted cannot be straightened,k and what is lacking cannot be counted.l

                              References for Ecclesiastes 1:15

                                • k 1:15 - The MT reads the active "to be straight"; however, the BHS editors suggest the passive "to be straightened," which is supported by LXX, which reflects a passive form
                                • l 1:15 - The MT reads "to be numbered"; however, the BHS editors suggest "to be supplied," comparing 1:15b with similar wording in the Babylonian Talmud: "May the Almighty replenish your loss" (b. Berachot 16b)
                                  16 {I said to myself},m "Look! I have become great and have increased [in] wisdom more than anyone who {has preceded}n me over Jerusalem. {I have acquired a great deal of wisdom and knowledge}."o

                                  References for Ecclesiastes 1:16

                                    • m 1:16 - Literally "I myself said to my heart"
                                    • n 1:16 - Literally "before me"
                                    • o 1:16 - Literally "And my mind has seen much wisdom and knowledge"
                                      17 So {I dedicated myself}p to learn about wisdom and [to] learn about delusion and folly. However, I discoveredq that this also [is] chasing wind.

                                      References for Ecclesiastes 1:17

                                        • p 1:17 - Literally "So I gave my heart"
                                        • q 1:17 - Or "I knew"
                                          18 For in much wisdom [is] much frustration,r and whoever increases knowledge increases sorrow.

                                          References for Ecclesiastes 1:18

                                            • r 1:18 - Or "vexation"