Qohelet’s Investigation of Self-Indulgence

1 I said {to myself}, "Come! I will test pleasure {to see whether it is worthwhile}." But look, "This also [is] vanity!"
2 I said of laughter, "[It is] folly!" and of pleasure, "{What does it accomplish?}"
3 I also {explored} {the effects of indulging my flesh} with wine. My mind guiding me with wisdom, {I investigated} folly so that I might discover what [is] good under heaven for {humans} to do {during the days of their lives}.

Qohelet’s Investigation of Personal Accomplishment

4 {I accomplished great things}. I built for myself houses; I planted for myself vineyards.
5 I made for myself gardens and parks, and I planted all [sorts of] fruit trees in them.
6 I made for myself pools of water from which to irrigate a grove of flourishing trees.
7 I acquired male slaves and female slaves, as well as children [born in my] house. I also had livestock, cattle, and flocks more than anyone who [was] before me in Jerusalem.
8 I also gathered to myself silver and gold--the royal and provincial treasuries. I acquired for myself male and female singers, as well as the delight of {men}, {voluptuous concubines}.
9 Thus, {I accomplished far more} than anyone who [was] before me in Jerusalem--indeed, my wisdom stood by me.
10 I neither withheld anything from my eyes that they desired, nor did I deprive any pleasure from my heart. My heart rejoiced in all my toil, for this was my reward from all my toil.
11 Yet when I considered all the effort which I expended and the toil with which I toiled to do, then behold, "Everything [is] vanity and chasing wind! There is nothing profitable under the sun!"

The Living Must Abandon the Work of their Hands to Others at Death

12 Next, I considered wisdom, as well as delusion and folly. What can anyone [do] who will come after the king that has not already been done?
13 I realized that wisdom has an advantage over folly, just as light has an advantage over darkness.
14 {The wise man can see where he is walking}, but the fool walks in darkness. Yet I also realized that both of them suffer the same fate.
15 So I said {to myself}, "{If I also suffer the same fate as the fool}, {what advantage is my great wisdom}?" So I said {to myself}, "This also [is] vanity!"
16 Certainly no one will remember the wise man or the fool in {future generations}. When [future] days come, both will have been forgotten already. How [is it that] the wise man dies the same as the fool?
17 So I hated life because the work done under the sun [is] grievous to me. For everything [is] vanity and chasing wind!
18 So I hated all my toil with which I have toiled under the sun, for I must leave it behind to someone who will be after me.
19 And who knows [whether] he will be wise or foolish? Yet he will exercise control of all [the fruit of] my toil with which I toiled wisely under the sun. This also [is] vanity!
20 So {I began to despair} of all the toil with which I toiled under the sun.
21 For although a person may toil with great wisdom and skill, he must leave his reward to someone who has not toiled for it. This also [is] vanity and a great calamity.
22 For what does a person receive for all his toil and in the longing of his heart with which he toils under the sun?
23 All his days [are] painful, his labor [brings] grief, and his heart cannot rest at night. This also [is] vanity!

It is Best to Simply Enjoy the Passing Pleasures of Life as Reward for Pleasing God

24 There is nothing better for a person than to eat and drink and {find delight} in his toil. For I also realized that this [is] from the hand of God!
25 For who can eat [and drink], and who can enjoy [life] apart from him?
26 For to the person who [is] good in his eyes, he gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy; but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and heaping up only to give [it] to [him who is] pleasing to him. This also [is] vanity and chasing wind!