1 Watch your step when you go to the house of God. It is better to go there and listen than to bring the sacrifices fools bring. Fools are unaware that they are doing [something] evil. 2 Don't be in a hurry to talk. Don't be eager to speak in the presence of God. Since God is in heaven and you are on earth, limit the number of your words. 3 Daydreaming comes when there are too many worries. Careless speaking comes when there are too many words. 4 When you make a promise to God, don't be slow to keep it because God doesn't like fools. Keep your promise. 5 It is better not to make a promise than to make one and not keep it. 6 Don't let your mouth talk you into committing a sin. Don't say in the presence of a [temple] messenger, "My promise was a mistake!" Why should God become angry at your excuse and destroy what you've accomplished? 7 In spite of many daydreams, pointless actions, and empty words, you should still fear God. 8 Don't be surprised if you see poor people being oppressed, denied justice, or denied their rights in any district. One authority is watching over another, and they both have authorities watching over them. 9 Yet, a king is an advantage for a country with cultivated fields. 10 Whoever loves money will never be satisfied with money. Whoever loves wealth will never be satisfied with more income. Even this is pointless. 11 As the number of goods increase, so do the number of people who consume them. What do owners gain [from all their goods] except [the opportunity] to look at them? 12 The sleep of working people is sweet, whether they eat a little or a lot. But the full stomachs that rich people have will not allow them to sleep. 13 There is a painful tragedy that I have seen under the sun: Riches lead to the downfall of those who hoard them. 14 These hoarded riches were then lost in bad business deals. The owners had children, but now they have nothing to give them. 15 They came from their mother's womb naked. They will leave as naked as they came. They won't even be able to take a handful of their earnings with them from all their hard work. 16 This also is a painful tragedy: They leave exactly as they came. What advantage do they gain from working so hard for the wind? 17 They spend their entire lives in darkness, in constant frustration, sickness, and resentment. 18 At last I have seen what is good and beautiful: It is to eat and drink and to enjoy the good in all our hard work under the sun during the brief lives God gives us. That is our lot [in life]. 19 It is a gift from God when God gives some people wealth and possessions, the power to enjoy them, [the ability] to accept their lot in life, and [the ability] to rejoice in their own hard work. 20 These people won't give much thought to their brief lives because God keeps them occupied with the joy in their hearts.
1 There is a tragedy that I have seen under the sun. It is a terrible one for mortals. 2 God gives one person riches, wealth, and honor so that he doesn't lack anything he wants. Yet, God doesn't give him the power to enjoy any of them. Instead, a stranger enjoys them. This is pointless and is a painful tragedy. 3 Suppose a rich person wasn't satisfied with good things [while he was alive] and didn't even get an honorable burial [after he died]. Suppose he had a hundred children and lived for many years. No matter how long he would have lived, it [still] would have been better for him to have been born dead. 4 A stillborn baby arrives in a pointless birth and goes out into the darkness. The darkness then hides its name. 5 Though it has never seen the sun or known anything, the baby finds more rest than the rich person. 6 Even if the rich person lives two thousand years without experiencing anything good--don't we all go to the same place? 7 Everything that people work so hard for goes into their mouths, but their appetite is never satisfied. 8 What advantage does a wise person have over a fool? What advantage does a poor person have in knowing how to face life? 9 It is better to look at what is in front of you than to go looking for what you want. Even this is pointless. [It's like] trying to catch the wind. 10 Whatever has happened [in the past] already has a name. Mortals are already known for what they are. Mortals cannot argue with the one who is stronger than they. 11 The more words there are, the more pointless they become. What advantage do mortals gain from this? 12 Who knows what may be good for mortals while they are alive, during the brief, pointless days they live? Mortals pass by like a shadow. Who will tell them about their future under the sun?
1 A good name is better than expensive perfume, and the day you die is better than the day you're born. 2 It is better to go to a funeral than to a banquet because that is where everyone will end up. Everyone who is alive should take this to heart! 3 Sorrow is better than laughter because, in spite of a sad face, the heart can be joyful. 4 The minds of wise people think about funerals, but the minds of fools think about banquets. 5 It is better to listen to wise people who reprimand you than to fools who sing your praises. 6 The laughter of a fool is like the crackling of thorns burning under a pot. Even this is pointless. 7 Oppression can turn a wise person into a fool, and a bribe can corrupt the mind. 8 The end of something is better than its beginning. It is better to be patient than arrogant. 9 Don't be quick to get angry, because anger is typical of fools. 10 Don't ask, "Why were things better in the old days than they are now?" It isn't wisdom that leads you to ask this! 11 Wisdom is as good as an inheritance. It is an advantage to everyone who sees the sun. 12 Wisdom protects us just as money protects us, but the advantage of wisdom is that it gives life to those who have it. 13 Consider what God has done! Who can straighten what God has bent? 14 When times are good, be happy. But when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one time as well as the other so that mortals cannot predict their future. 15 I have seen it all in my pointless life: Righteous people die in spite of being righteous. Wicked people go on living in spite of being wicked. 16 Don't be too virtuous, and don't be too wise. Why make yourself miserable? 17 Don't be too wicked, and don't be a fool. Why should you die before your time is up? 18 It's good to hold on to the one and not let go of the other, because the one who fears God will be able to avoid both extremes. 19 Wisdom will help a wise person more than ten rulers can help a city. 20 Certainly, there is no one so righteous on earth that he always does what is good and never sins. 21 Don't take everything that people say to heart, or you may hear your own servant cursing you. 22 Your conscience knows that you have cursed others many times. 23 I used wisdom to test all of this. I said, "I want to be wise, but it is out of my reach." 24 Whatever wisdom may be, it is out of reach. It is deep, very deep. Who can find out what it is? 25 I turned my attention to study, to explore, and to seek out wisdom and the reason for things. I learned that wickedness is stupid and foolishness is madness. 26 I find that a woman whose thoughts are [like] traps and snares is more bitter than death itself. Even her hands are [like] chains. Whoever pleases God will escape her, but she will catch whoever continues to sin. 27 The spokesman said, "This is what I've found: I added one thing to another in order to find a reason for things. 28 I am still seeking a reason for things, but have not found any. I found one man out of a thousand who had it, but out of all these I didn't find one woman. 29 I have found only this: God made people decent, but they looked for many ways [to avoid being decent]."
1 Who is really wise? Who knows how to explain things? Wisdom makes one's face shine, and it changes one's grim look. 2 I [advise] you to obey the king's commands because of the oath you took in God's presence. 3 Don't be in a hurry to leave the king's service. Don't take part in something evil, because he can do whatever he pleases. 4 Since a king's word has such power, no one can ask him what he is doing. 5 Whoever obeys his commands will avoid trouble. The mind of a wise person will know the right time and the right way [to act]. 6 There is a right time and a right way [to act] in every situation. Yet, a terrible human tragedy hangs over people. 7 They don't know what the future will bring. So who can tell them how things will turn out? 8 No one has the power to prevent the spirit of life from leaving. No one has control over the day of his own death. There is no way to avoid the war [against death]. Wickedness will not save wicked people [from dying]. 9 I have seen all of this, and I have carefully considered all that is done under the sun whenever one person has authority to hurt others. 10 Then I saw wicked people given an [honorable] burial. They used to go in and out of the holy place. They were praised in the city for doing such things. Even this is pointless. 11 When a sentence against a crime isn't carried out quickly, people are encouraged to commit crimes. 12 A sinner may commit a hundred crimes and yet live a long life. Still, I know with certainty that it will go well for those who fear God, because they fear him. 13 But it will not go well for the wicked. They will not live any longer. Their lives are like shadows, because they don't fear God. 14 There is something being done on earth that is pointless. Righteous people suffer for what the wicked do, and wicked people get what the righteous deserve. I say that even this is pointless. 15 So I recommend the enjoyment [of life]. People have nothing better to do under the sun than to eat, drink, and enjoy themselves. This joy will stay with them while they work hard during their brief lives which God has given them under the sun. 16 When I carefully considered how to study wisdom and how to look at the work that is done on earth (even going without sleep day and night), 17 then I saw everything that God has done. No one is able to grasp the work that is done under the sun. However hard a person may search for it, he will not find [its meaning]. Even though a wise person claims to know, he is not able to grasp it.