New Revised Standard Version
1 The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2 Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
3 What do people gain from all the toil
at which they toil under the sun?
4 A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun goes down,
and hurries to the place where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south,
and goes around to the north;
round and round goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
7 All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they continue to flow.
8 All things are wearisome;
more than one can express;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
or the ear filled with hearing.
9 What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
"See, this is new"?
It has already been,
in the ages before us.
11 The people of long ago are not remembered,
nor will there be any remembrance
of people yet to come
by those who come after them.
The author's experiences and accomplishments
12 I, the Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem, 13 applied my mind to
seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an
unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. 14 I saw
all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a
chasing after wind.
15 What is crooked cannot be made straight,
and what is lacking cannot be counted.
16 I said to myself, "I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were
over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has had great experience of wisdom and
knowledge." 17 And I applied my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and
folly. I perceived that this also is but a chasing after wind.
18 For in much wisdom is much vexation,
and those who increase knowledge increase sorrow.
The leveling effect of death
1 I said to myself, "Come now, I will make a test of pleasure; enjoy
yourself." But again, this also was vanity. 2 I said of laughter, "It is mad,"
and of pleasure, "What use is it?" 3 I searched with my mind how to cheer my
body with wine – my mind still guiding me with wisdom – and how to lay hold on
folly, until I might see what was good for mortals to do under heaven during
the few days of their life. 4 I made great works; I built houses and planted
vineyards for myself; 5 I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them
all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest
of growing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were
born in my house; I also had great possessions of herds and flocks, more than
any who had been before me in Jerusalem. 8 I also gathered for myself silver
and gold and the treasure of kings and of the provinces; I got singers, both
men and women, and delights of the flesh, and many concubines.
9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem; also my
wisdom remained with me. 10 Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them;
I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil,
and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands
had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was vanity and a
chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
12 So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly; for what can the one
do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. 13 Then I saw
that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness.
14 The wise have eyes in their head,
but fools walk in darkness.
Yet I perceived that the same fate befalls all of them. 15 Then I said to
myself, "What happens to the fool will happen to me also; why then have I been
so very wise?" And I said to myself that this also is vanity. 16 For there is
no enduring remembrance of the wise or of fools, seeing that in the days to
come all will have been long forgotten. How can the wise die just like fools?
17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me; for
all is vanity and a chasing after wind.
18 I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must
leave it to those who come after me 19 – and who knows whether they will be
wise or foolish? Yet they will be master of all for which I toiled and used my
wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned and gave my heart up
to despair concerning all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because
sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave
all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and
a great evil. 22 What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which
they toil under the sun? 23 For all their days are full of pain, and their
work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is
24 There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink, and find
enjoyment in their toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God; 25 for
apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who
pleases him God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy; but to the sinner he gives
the work of gathering and heaping, only to give to one who pleases God. This
also is vanity and a chasing after wind.
The determination of events
1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
9 What gain have the workers from their toil? 10 I have seen the business that
God has given to everyone to be busy with. 11 He has made everything suitable
for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds,
yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I
know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy
themselves as long as they live; 13 moreover, it is God's gift that all should
eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. 14 I know that whatever God
does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it;
God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him. 15 That which
is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what
has gone by.
The determination of humanity's fate
16 Moreover I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, wickedness was
there, and in the place of righteousness, wickedness was there as well. 17 I
said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for he has
appointed a time for every matter, and for every work. 18 I said in my heart
with regard to human beings that God is testing them to show that they are but
animals. 19 For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one
dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no
advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. 20 All go to one place; all are
from the dust, and all turn to dust again. 21 Who knows whether the human
spirit goes upward and the spirit of animals goes downward to the earth? 22 So
I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for
that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them?
1 Again I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. Look, the
tears of the oppressed – with no one to comfort them! On the side of their
oppressors there was power – with no one to comfort them. 2 And I thought the
dead, who have already died, more fortunate than the living, who are still
alive; 3 but better than both is the one who has not yet been, and has not
seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
4 Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from one person's envy
of another. This also is vanity and a chasing after wind.
5 Fools fold their hands
and consume their own flesh.
6 Better is a handful with quiet
than two handfuls with toil,
and a chasing after wind.
7 Again, I saw vanity under the sun: 8 the case of solitary individuals,
without sons or brothers; yet there is no end to all their toil, and their
eyes are never satisfied with riches. "For whom am I toiling," they ask, "and
depriving myself of pleasure?" This also is vanity and an unhappy business.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10
For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and
falls and does not have another to help. 11 Again, if two lie together, they
keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though one might prevail
against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly
13 Better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king, who will no
longer take advice. 14 One can indeed come out of prison to reign, even though
born poor in the kingdom. 15 I saw all the living who, moving about under the
sun, follow that youth who replaced the king; 16 there was no end to all those
people whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely
this also is vanity and a chasing after wind.
Attitude before God
1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God; to draw near to listen is
better than the sacrifice offered by fools; for they do not know how to keep
from doing evil. 2 Never be rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be quick
to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven, and you upon earth;
therefore let your words be few.
3 For dreams come with many cares, and a fool's voice with many words.
4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay fulfilling it; for he has no
pleasure in fools. Fulfill what you vow. 5 It is better that you should not
vow than that you should vow and not fulfill it. 6 Do not let your mouth lead
you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake; why
should God be angry at your words, and destroy the work of your hands?
7 With many dreams come vanities and a multitude of words; but fear God.
Enjoy, but do not be greedy
8 If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of
justice and right, do not be amazed at the matter; for the high official is
watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them. 9 But all things
considered, this is an advantage for a land: a king for a plowed field.
10 The lover of money will not be satisfied with money; nor the lover of
wealth, with gain. This also is vanity.
11 When goods increase, those who eat them increase; and what gain has their
owner but to see them with his eyes?
12 Sweet is the sleep of laborers, whether they eat little or much; but the
surfeit of the rich will not let them sleep.
13 There is a grievous ill that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by
their owners to their hurt, 14 and those riches were lost in a bad venture;
though they are parents of children, they have nothing in their hands. 15 As
they came from their mother's womb, so they shall go again, naked as they
came; they shall take nothing for their toil, which they may carry away with
their hands. 16 This also is a grievous ill: just as they came, so shall they
go; and what gain do they have from toiling for the wind? 17 Besides, all
their days they eat in darkness, in much vexation and sickness and resentment.
18 This is what I have seen to be good: it is fitting to eat and drink and
find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days
of the life God gives us; for this is our lot. 19 Likewise all to whom God
gives wealth and possessions and whom he enables to enjoy them, and to accept
their lot and find enjoyment in their toil – this is the gift of God. 20 For
they will scarcely brood over the days of their lives, because God keeps them
occupied with the joy of their hearts.
1 There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy upon
humankind: 2 those to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that
they lack nothing of all that they desire, yet God does not enable them to
enjoy these things, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity; it is a
grievous ill. 3 A man may beget a hundred children, and live many years; but
however many are the days of his years, if he does not enjoy life's good
things, or has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.
4 For it comes into vanity and goes into darkness, and in darkness its name is
covered; 5 moreover it has not seen the sun or known anything; yet it finds
rest rather than he. 6 Even though he should live a thousand years twice over,
yet enjoy no good – do not all go to one place?
7 All human toil is for the mouth, yet the appetite is not satisfied. 8 For
what advantage have the wise over fools? And what do the poor have who know
how to conduct themselves before the living? 9 Better is the sight of the eyes
than the wandering of desire; this also is vanity and a chasing after wind.
No one knows what is good
10 Whatever has come to be has already been named, and it is known what human
beings are, and that they are not able to dispute with those who are stronger.
11 The more words, the more vanity, so how is one the better? 12 For who knows
what is good for mortals while they live the few days of their vain life,
which they pass like a shadow? For who can tell them what will be after them
under the sun?
1 A good name is better than precious ointment,
and the day of death, than the day of birth.
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting;
for this is the end of everyone,
and the living will lay it to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of countenance the heart is made glad.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning;
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise
than to hear the song of fools.
6 For like the crackling of thorns under a pot,
so is the laughter of fools;
this also is vanity.
7 Surely oppression makes the wise foolish,
and a bribe corrupts the heart.
8 Better is the end of a thing than its beginning;
the patient in spirit are better than the proud in spirit.
9 Do not be quick to anger,
for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
10 Do not say, "Why were the former days better than these?"
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
11 Wisdom is as good as an inheritance,
an advantage to those who see the sun.
12 For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money,
and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to the one who
13 Consider the work of God;
who can make straight what he has made crooked?
14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider;
God has made the one as well as the other, so that mortals may not find out
anything that will come after them.
Righteousness and wisdom are elusive
15 In my vain life I have seen everything; there are righteous people who
perish in their righteousness, and there are wicked people who prolong their
life in their evildoing. 16 Do not be too righteous, and do not act too wise;
why should you destroy yourself? 17 Do not be too wicked, and do not be a
fool; why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you should take
hold of the one, without letting go of the other; for the one who fears God
shall succeed with both.
19 Wisdom gives strength to the wise more than ten rulers that are in a city.
20 Surely there is no one on earth so righteous as to do good without ever
21 Do not give heed to everything that people say, or you may hear your
servant cursing you; 22 your heart knows that many times you have yourself
23 All this I have tested by wisdom; I said, "I will be wise," but it was far
from me. 24 That which is, is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it
out? 25 I turned my mind to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the
sum of things, and to know that wickedness is folly and that foolishness is
madness. 26 I found more bitter than death the woman who is a trap, whose
heart is snares and nets, whose hands are fetters; one who pleases God escapes
her, but the sinner is taken by her. 27 See, this is what I found, says the
Teacher, adding one thing to another to find the sum, 28 which my mind has
sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found, but
a woman among all these I have not found. 29 See, this alone I found, that God
made human beings straightforward, but they have devised many schemes.
Reflections on the limits of human power
1 Who is like the wise man?
And who knows the interpretation of a thing?
Wisdom makes one's face shine,
and the hardness of one's countenance is changed.
2 Keep the king's command because of your sacred oath. 3 Do not be terrified;
go from his presence, do not delay when the matter is unpleasant, for he does
whatever he pleases. 4 For the word of the king is powerful, and who can say
to him, "What are you doing?" 5 Whoever obeys a command will meet no harm, and
the wise mind will know the time and way. 6 For every matter has its time and
way, although the troubles of mortals lie heavy upon them. 7 Indeed, they do
not know what is to be, for who can tell them how it will be? 8 No one has
power over the wind to restrain the wind, or power over the day of death;
there is no discharge from the battle, nor does wickedness deliver those who
practice it. 9 All this I observed, applying my mind to all that is done under
the sun, while one person exercises authority over another to the other's
10 Then I saw the wicked buried; they used to go in and out of the holy place,
and were praised in the city where they had done such things. This also is
vanity. 11 Because sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the
human heart is fully set to do evil. 12 Though sinners do evil a hundred times
and prolong their lives, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear
God, because they stand in fear before him, 13 but it will not be well with
the wicked, neither will they prolong their days like a shadow, because they
do not stand in fear before God.
14 There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous
people who are treated according to the conduct of the wicked, and there are
wicked people who are treated according to the conduct of the righteous. I
said that this also is vanity. 15 So I commend enjoyment, for there is nothing
better for people under the sun than to eat, and drink, and enjoy themselves,
for this will go with them in their toil through the days of life that God
gives them under the sun.
16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done
on earth, how one's eyes see sleep neither day nor night, 17 then I saw all
the work of God, that no one can find out what is happening under the sun.
However much they may toil in seeking, they will not find it out; even though
those who are wise claim to know, they cannot find it out.
Enjoy your life
1 All this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise
and their deeds are in the hand of God; whether it is love or hate one does
not know. Everything that confronts them 2 is vanity, since the same fate
comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to
the clean and the unclean, to those who sacrifice and those who do not
sacrifice. As are the good, so are the sinners; those who swear are like those
who shun an oath. 3 This is an evil in all that happens under the sun, that
the same fate comes to everyone. Moreover, the hearts of all are full of evil;
madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the
dead. 4 But whoever is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog
is better than a dead lion. 5 The living know that they will die, but the dead
know nothing; they have no more reward, and even the memory of them is lost. 6
Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished; never again
will they have any share in all that happens under the sun.
7 Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart;
for God has long ago approved what you do. 8 Let your garments always be
white; do not let oil be lacking on your head. 9 Enjoy life with the wife whom
you love, all the days of your vain life that are given you under the sun,
because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under
the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might; for there is
no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
The world is full of risks
11 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle
to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor
to the skillful; but time and chance happen to them all. 12 For no one can
anticipate the time of disaster. Like fish taken in a cruel net, and like
birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it
suddenly falls upon them.
13 I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great
to me. 14 There was a little city with few people in it. A great king came
against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it. 15 Now there
was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet
no one remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, "Wisdom is better than might;
yet the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heeded."
17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
than the shouting of a ruler among fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
but one bungler destroys much good.
1 Dead flies make the perfumer's ointment give off a foul odor;
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
2 The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
but the heart of a fool to the left.
3 Even when fools walk on the road, they lack sense,
and show to everyone that they are fools.
4 If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your post,
for calmness will undo great offenses.
5 There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, as great an error as if it
proceeded from the ruler: 6 folly is set in many high places, and the rich sit
in a low place. 7 I have seen slaves on horseback, and princes walking on foot
8 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it;
and whoever breaks through a wall will be bitten by a snake.
9 Whoever quarries stones will be hurt by them;
and whoever splits logs will be endangered by them.
10 If the iron is blunt, and one does not whet the edge,
then more strength must be exerted;
but wisdom helps one to succeed.
11 If the snake bites before it is charmed,
there is no advantage in a charmer.
12 Words spoken by the wise bring them favor,
but the lips of fools consume them.
13 The words of their mouths begin in foolishness,
and their talk ends in wicked madness;
14 yet fools talk on and on.
No one knows what is to happen,
and who can tell anyone what the future holds?
15 The toil of fools wears them out,
for they do not even know the way to town.
Living with risks
16 Alas for you, O land, when your king is a servant,
and your princes feast in the morning!
17 Happy are you, O land, when your king is a nobleman,
and your princes feast at the proper time –
for strength, and not for drunkenness!
18 Through sloth the roof sinks in,
and through indolence the house leaks.
19 Feasts are made for laughter;
wine gladdens life,
and money meets every need.
20 Do not curse the king, even in your thoughts,
or curse the rich, even in your bedroom;
for a bird of the air may carry your voice,
or some winged creature tell the matter.
1 Send out your bread upon the waters,
for after many days you will get it back.
2 Divide your means seven ways, or even eight,
for you do not know what disaster may happen on earth.
3 When clouds are full,
they empty rain on the earth;
whether a tree falls to the south or to the north,
in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.
4 Whoever observes the wind will not sow;
and whoever regards the clouds will not reap.
5 Just as you do not know how the breath comes to the bones in the mother's
womb, so you do not know the work of God, who makes everything.
6 In the morning sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hands be idle;
for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike
will be good.
7 Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.
8 Even those who live many years should rejoice in them all; yet let them
remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.
9 Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart cheer you in the
days of your youth. Follow the inclination of your heart and the desire of
your eyes, but know that for all these things God will bring you into
10 Banish anxiety from your mind, and put away pain from your body; for youth
and the dawn of life are vanity.
1 Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble
come, and the years draw near when you will say, "I have no pleasure in them";
2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the
clouds return with the rain; 3 in the day when the guards of the house
tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the women who grind cease working
because they are few, and those who look through the windows see dimly; 4 when
the doors on the street are shut, and the sound of the grinding is low, and
one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought
low; 5 when one is afraid of heights, and terrors are in the road; the almond
tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along and desire fails; because
all must go to their eternal home, and the mourners will go about the streets;
6 before the silver cord is snapped, and the golden bowl is broken, and the
pitcher is broken at the fountain, and the wheel broken at the cistern, 7 and
the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath returns to God who
gave it. 8 Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher; all is vanity.
9 Besides being wise, the Teacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing
and studying and arranging many proverbs. 10 The Teacher sought to find
pleasing words, and he wrote words of truth plainly.
11 The sayings of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the
collected sayings that are given by one shepherd. 12 Of anything beyond these,
my child, beware. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a
weariness of the flesh.
13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his
commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone. 14 For God will bring
every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.