Ecclesiastes 7-12 American Standard Version

Wisdom and Folly Compared

7 1  A [good] name is better than precious oil; and the day of death, than the day of one's birth. 2  It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. 3  Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the 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 for a man to hear the song of fools. 6  For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.

7  Surely extortion maketh the wise man foolish; and a bribe destroyeth the understanding. 8  Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof; [and] the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. 9  Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; for anger resteth in the bosom of fools. 10  Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this.

11  Wisdom is as good as an inheritance; yea, more excellent is it for them that see the sun. 12  For wisdom is a defence, even as money is a defence; but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom preserveth the life of him that hath it. 13  Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked? 14  In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; yea, God hath made the one side by side with the other, to the end that man should not find out anything [that shall be] after him. 15  All this have I seen in my days of vanity: there is a righteous man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth [his life] in his evil-doing. 16  Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself overwise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? 17  Be not overmuch wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time? 18  It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from that withdraw not thy hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth from them all. 19  Wisdom is a strength to the wise man more than ten rulers that are in a city. 20  Surely there is not a righteous man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not. 21  Also take not heed unto all words that are spoken, lest thou hear thy servant curse thee; 22  for oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.

23  All this have I proved in wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me. 24  That which is, is far off and exceeding deep; who can find it out? 25  I turned about, and my heart [was set] to know and to search out, and to seek wisdom and the reason [of things], and to know that wickedness is folly, and that foolishness is madness. 26  And I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, [and] whose hands are bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her. 27  Behold, this have I found, saith the Preacher, [laying] one thing to another, to find out the account; 28  which my soul still seeketh, but I have not found: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found. 29  Behold, this only have I found: that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

8 1  Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the hardness of his face is changed. 2  I [counsel thee], Keep the king's command, and that in regard of the oath of God. 3  Be not hasty to go out of his presence; persist not in an evil thing: for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him. 4  For the king's word [hath] power; and who may say unto him, What doest thou? 5  Whoso keepeth the commandment shall know no evil thing; and a wise man's heart discerneth time and judgment:

6  for to every purpose there is a time and judgment; because the misery of man is great upon him: 7  for he knoweth not that which shall be; for who can tell him how it shall be? 8  There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power over the day of death; and there is no discharge in war: neither shall wickedness deliver him that is given to it.

9  All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: [there is] a time wherein one man hath power over another to his hurt.

The Inequalities of Life

10  So I saw the wicked buried, and they came [to the grave]; and they that had done right went away from the holy place, and were forgotten in the city: this also is vanity. 11  Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. 12  Though a sinner do evil a hundred times, and prolong his [days], yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, that fear before him: 13  but it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong [his] days, [which are] as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.

14  There is a vanity which is done upon the earth, that there are righteous men unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity. 15  Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be joyful: for that shall abide with him in his labor [all] the days of his life which God hath given him under the sun. 16  When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes), 17  then I beheld all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because however much a man labor to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea moreover, though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.

9 1  For all this I laid to my heart, even to explore all this: that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God; whether it be love or hatred, man knoweth it not; all is before them. 2  All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth and to him that sacrificeth not; as is the good, so is the sinner; [and] he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath. 3  This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea also, the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that [they go] to the dead.

4  For to him that is joined with all the living there is hope; for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5  For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. 6  As well their love, as their hatred and their envy, is perished long ago; neither have they any more a portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun. 7  Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God hath already accepted thy works. 8  Let thy garments be always white; and let not thy head lack oil. 9  Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of thy life of vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all thy days of vanity: for that is thy portion in life, and in thy labor wherein thou laborest under the sun. 10  Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, whither thou goest.

11  I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. 12  For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, even so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

13  I have also seen wisdom under the sun on this wise, and it seemed great unto me: 14  There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it. 15  Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man. 16  Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. 17  The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the cry of him that ruleth among fools. 18  Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroyeth much good.

The Excellence of Wisdom

10 1  Dead flies cause the oil of the perfumer to send forth an evil odor; [so] doth a little folly outweigh wisdom and honor. 2  A wise man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left. 3  Yea also, when the fool walketh by the way, his understanding faileth him, and he saith to every one [that] he is a fool.

4  If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for gentleness allayeth great offences. 5  There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as it were an error which proceedeth from the ruler: 6  folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in a low place. 7  I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking like servants upon the earth. 8  He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh through a wall, a serpent shall bite him. 9  Whoso heweth out stones shall be hurt therewith; [and] he that cleaveth wood is endangered thereby. 10  If the iron be blunt, and one do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct. 11  If the serpent bite before it is charmed, then is there no advantage in the charmer.

12  The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. 13  The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness; and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. 14  A fool also multiplieth words: [yet] man knoweth not what shall be; and that which shall be after him, who can tell him? 15  The labor of fools wearieth every one of them; for he knoweth not how to go to the city.

16  Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning! 17  Happy art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness! 18  By slothfulness the roof sinketh in; and through idleness of the hands the house leaketh. 19  A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh glad the life; and money answereth all things. 20  Revile not the king, no, not in thy thought; and revile not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the heavens shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.

11 1  Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days. 2  Give a portion to seven, yea, even unto eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth. 3  If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth; and if a tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there shall it be. 4  He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. 5  As thou knowest not what is the way of the wind, [nor] how the bones [do grow] in the womb of her that is with child; even so thou knowest not the work of God who doeth all. 6  In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand; for thou knowest not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.

7  Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun. 8  Yea, if a man live many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity.

Advice to the Young

9  Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. 10  Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh; for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.

12 1  Remember also thy Creator in the days of thy youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw nigh, when thou shalt 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 after the rain; 3  in the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows shall be darkened, 4  and the doors shall be shut in the street; when the sound of the grinding is low, and one shall rise up at the voice of a bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low; 5  yea, they shall be afraid of [that which is] high, and terrors [shall be] in the way; and the almond-tree shall blossom, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail; because man goeth to his everlasting home, and the mourners go about the streets: 6  before the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, 7  and the dust returneth to the earth as it was, and the spirit returneth unto God who gave it.

8  Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher; all is vanity.

The Whole Duty of Man

9  And further, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he pondered, and sought out, [and] set in order many proverbs. 10  The Preacher sought to find out acceptable words, and that which was written uprightly, [even] words of truth. 11  The words of the wise are as goads; and as nails well fastened are [the words of] the masters of assemblies, [which] are given from one shepherd. 12  And furthermore, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

13  [This is] the end of the matter; all hath been heard: fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole [duty] of man. 14  For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Add Another Translation