1A good name is better than fine perfume. People can learn more from sobbing when someone dies than from being happy when someone is born.2So it's better to go where people are sobbing than to go where people are having a good time. Everyone will die someday. Those who are still living should really think about that.3Sadness is good for the heart. That's why sorrow is better than laughter.4Those who are wise are found where there is sorrow. But foolish people are found where there is pleasure.5Pay attention to a wise man's warning. That's better than listening to the songs of those who are foolish.6A foolish person's laughter is like the crackling of thorns burning under a pot. That doesn't have any meaning either.7When a wise man takes wealth by force, he becomes foolish. It is sinful to take money from people who want special favors.8The end of a matter is better than its beginning. So it's better to be patient than proud.9Don't become angry quickly. Anger lives in the hearts of foolish people.10Don't say, "Why were things better in the good old days?" It isn't wise to ask that kind of question.11Wisdom is a good thing. It's like getting a share of the family wealth. It benefits those who live on this earth.12Wisdom provides safety, just as money provides safety. But here's the advantage of wisdom. It guards the lives of those who have it.13Think about what God has done. Who can make straight what he has made crooked?14When times are good, be happy. But when times are bad, here's something to think about. God has made bad times. He has also made good times. So a man can't find out anything about what's ahead for him.15In my meaningless life here's what I've seen. I've seen a godly man dying even though he is godly. And I've seen a sinful man living a long time even though he is sinful.16Don't claim to be better than you are. And don't claim to be wiser than you are. Why destroy yourself?17Don't be too sinful. And don't be foolish. Why die before your time comes?18It's good to hold on to both of those things. Don't let go of either one. A man who has respect for God will avoid going too far in either direction.19Wisdom makes one wise man more powerful than ten rulers in a city.20There isn't anyone on earth who does only what is right and never sins.21Don't pay attention to everything people say. If you do, you might hear your servant calling down a curse on you.22Many times you yourself have called down curses on others. Deep down inside, you know that's true.23I used wisdom to put all of those things to the test. I said, "I've made up my mind to be wise." But it was more than I could accomplish.24No matter what else wisdom may be, it's far away and very deep. Who can find it?25So I tried to understand wisdom more completely. I wanted to study it and figure it out. I tried to find out everything I could about it. I tried to understand why it's foolish to be evil. I wanted to see why choosing foolishness is so unwise.26A woman who hunts a man down is more painful than death. Her heart is like a trap. Her hands are like chains. A man who pleases God will try to get away from her. But she will trap a sinner.27"Look," says the Teacher. "Here's what I've discovered. "I added one thing to another to find out everything I could about wisdom.28I searched and searched but found very little. I did find one honest man among a thousand. But I didn't find one honest woman among a thousand.29Here's the only other thing I found. God made men honest. But they've made many evil plans."
1Who is like a wise man? Who knows how to explain things? Wisdom makes a man's face bright. It softens the look on his face.2I'm telling you to obey the king's command. You took an oath to serve him. You made a promise to God.3Don't be in a hurry to quit your job in the palace. Don't stand up for something the king doesn't like. He'll do anything he wants to.4He has the final word. So who can ask him, "What are you doing?"5No one who obeys his command will be harmed. Those who are wise will know the proper time and way to approach him.6There's a proper time and way for people to do everything. That's true even though a man might be suffering greatly.7No one knows what lies ahead. So who can tell a person what's going to happen?8He can't stop the wind from blowing. And he doesn't have the power to decide when he will die. No one is let out of the army in times of war. And evil won't let go of those who practice it.9I understood all of those things. I used my mind to study everything that's done on earth. A man sometimes makes life hard for others. But he ends up hurting himself.10I also saw sinful people being buried. They used to come and go from the place of worship. And others praised them in the city where they worshiped. That doesn't have any meaning either.11Sometimes the sentence for a crime isn't carried out quickly. So people make plans to commit even more crimes.12An evil man may be guilty of a hundred crimes and still live a long time. But I know that things will go better with men who have great respect for God.13Sinful people don't respect God. So things won't go well with them. Like a shadow, they won't be around very long.14Here's something else on this earth that doesn't have any meaning. Sometimes godly men get what sinful people should receive. And sinful men get what godly people should receive. Here's what I'm telling you. That doesn't have any meaning either.15So I advise everyone to enjoy life. A man on this earth can't do anything better than eat and drink and be glad. Then he will enjoy his work. He'll be happy all the days of the life God has given him on earth.16I used my mind to understand what it really means to be wise. I wanted to observe the hard work man does on earth. He doesn't close his eyes and go to sleep day or night.17I saw everything God has done. No one can understand what happens on earth. Man might try very hard to figure it out. But he still can't discover what it all means. A wise man might claim he knows. But he can't really understand it either.
1I thought about all of those things. I realized that those who are wise and do what is right are under God's control. What they do is also under his control. But a man doesn't know whether God will show favor to him.2Everyone will die someday. Death comes to godly and sinful people alike. It comes to good and bad people alike. It comes to "clean" and "unclean" people alike. Those who offer sacrifices and those who don't offer them also die. A good person dies, and so does a sinner. Those who take oaths die. So do those who are afraid to take them.3Here's what is so bad about everything that happens on this earth. Death catches up with all of us. Also, the hearts of people are full of evil. They live in foolish pleasure. After that, they join those who have already died.4Anyone who is living still has hope. Even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!5People who are still alive know they'll die. But those who have died don't know anything. They don't receive any more rewards. And they are soon forgotten.6Their love, hate and jealousy disappear. They will never share again in anything that happens on earth.7Go and enjoy your food. Be joyful as you drink your wine. Now is the time God favors what you do.8Always wear white clothes to show you are happy. Anoint your head with olive oil.9You love your wife. So enjoy life with her. Do it all the days of this meaningless life God has given you on earth. That's what he made you for. That's what you get for all of your hard work on earth.10No matter what you do, work at it with all your might. Remember, you are going to your grave. And there isn't any work or planning or knowledge or wisdom there.11Here's something else I've seen on this earth. Races aren't always won by those who run fast. Battles aren't always won by those who are strong. Wise people don't always have plenty of food. Clever people aren't always wealthy. Those who have learned a lot aren't always favored. God controls the timing of every event. He also controls how things turn out.12A man doesn't know when trouble will come to him. Fish are caught in nets. Birds are taken in traps. And people are trapped by hard times that come when they don't expect them.13Here's something else I saw on this earth. I saw an example of wisdom that touched me deeply.14There was once a small city. Only a few people lived there. A powerful king attacked it. He brought in war machines all around it.15A certain man lived in that city. He was poor but wise. He used his wisdom to save the city. But no one remembered that poor man.16So I said, "It's better to be wise than to be powerful." But people looked down on the poor man's wisdom. No one paid any attention to what he said.17People should listen to the quiet words of those who are wise. That's better than paying attention to the shouts of a ruler of foolish people.18Wisdom is better than weapons of war. But one sinner destroys a lot of good.
1Dead flies give perfume a bad smell. And a little foolishness can make a lot of wisdom useless.2The hearts of wise people lead them on the right path. But the hearts of foolish people take them down the wrong path.3A foolish person doesn't have any sense at all. He shows everyone he is foolish. He does it even when he is walking along the road.4Suppose a ruler gets very angry with you. If he does, don't quit your job in the palace. Stay calm. That will overcome the effects of your big mistakes.5Here's something evil I've seen on this earth. And it's the kind of mistake that rulers make.6Foolish people are given many important jobs. Rich people are given unimportant ones.7I've seen slaves on horseback. I've also seen princes who were forced to walk as if they were slaves.8Anyone who digs a pit might fall into it. Anyone who breaks through a wall might be bitten by a snake.9Anyone who removes stones from rock pits might get hurt. Anyone who cuts logs might get wounded.10Suppose the blade of an ax is dull. And its edge hasn't been sharpened. Then more effort is needed to use it. But skill will bring success.11Suppose a snake bites before it is charmed. Then there isn't any benefit in being a snake charmer.12A man who is wise says gracious things. But a foolish person is destroyed by what his own lips speak.13At first what he says is foolish. In the end his words are very evil.14He talks too much. No one knows what lies ahead for him. Who can tell him what will happen after he is gone?15The work a foolish person does makes him tired. He doesn't even know the way to town.16How terrible it is for a land whose king used to be a servant! How terrible if its princes get drunk in the morning!17How blessed is the land whose king was born into the royal family! How blessed if its princes eat and drink at the proper time! How blessed if they eat and drink to become strong and not to get drunk!18When a man won't work, the roof falls down. When his hands aren't busy, the house leaks.19People laugh at a dinner party. And wine makes life happy. People think money can buy everything.20Don't call down curses on the king. Don't even think about doing it. Don't call down curses on rich people. Don't even do it in your bedroom. A bird might fly away and carry your words. It might report what you said.
1Put your money into trade across the ocean. After a while you will earn something from it.2Give shares of what you earn to a lot of people. After all, you don't know what great trouble might come on the land.3Clouds that are full of water pour rain down on the earth. A tree might fall to the south or the north. It will stay in the place where it falls.4Anyone who keeps on watching the wind won't plant seeds. Anyone who keeps looking at the clouds won't gather crops.5You don't know the path the wind takes. You don't know how a baby is made inside its mother. So you can't understand how God works either. He made everything.6In the morning plant your seeds. In the evening keep your hands busy. You don't know what will succeed. It may be one or the other. Or both might do equally well.7Light is sweet. People enjoy being out in the sun.8No matter how many years a man might live, let him enjoy all of them. But let him remember the dark days. There will be many of them. Nothing that's going to happen will have any meaning.9Young man, be happy while you are still young. Let your heart be joyful while you are still strong. Do what your heart tells you to do. Go after what your eyes look at. But I want you to know that God will judge you for everything you do.10So drive worry out of your heart. Get rid of all of your troubles. Being young and strong doesn't have any meaning.
1Remember the One who created you. Remember him while you are still young. Think about him before your times of trouble come. The years will come when you will say, "I don't find any pleasure in them."2That's when the sunlight will become dark. The moon and the stars will also grow dark. And the clouds will return after it rains.3Remember your Creator before those who guard the house tremble with old age. That's when strong men will be bent over. The women who grind grain will stop because there are so few of them left. Those who look through the windows won't be able to see very well.4Remember your Creator before the front doors are closed. That's when the sound of grinding will fade away. Old men will rise up when they hear birds singing. But they will barely hear any of their songs.5Remember your Creator before you become afraid of places that are too high. You will also be terrified because of danger in the streets. Remember your Creator before the almond trees have buds on them. That's when grasshoppers will drag themselves along. Old men will not want to make love anymore. Man will go to his dark home in the grave. And those who sob over the dead will walk around in the streets.6Remember your Creator before the silver cord is cut. That's when the golden bowl will be broken. The wheel will be broken at the well. The pitcher will be smashed at the spring.7Remember your Creator before you return to the dust you came from. That's when your spirit will go back to God who gave it.8"Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Nothing has any meaning."9The Teacher was wise. He gave knowledge to people. He put many proverbs to the test. He thought about them carefully. Then he wrote them down in order.10He did his best to find just the right words. And what he wrote was honest and true.11The sayings of those who are wise move people to take action. Their collected sayings really nail things down. They are given to us by one Shepherd.12My son, be careful not to pay attention to anything that is added to them. Books will never stop being written. Too much studying makes people tired.13Everything has now been heard. And here's the final thing I want to say. Have respect for God and obey his commandments. That's what everyone should do.14God will judge everything people do. That includes everything they try to hide. He'll judge everything, whether it's good or evil.