Ecclesiastes 5-8 Bible in Basic English

The Folly of Rash Vows

5 1  Be not unwise with your mouth, and let not your heart be quick to say anything before God, because God is in heaven and you are on the earth—so let not the number of your words be great. 2  As a dream comes from much business, so the voice of a foolish man comes with words in great number. 3  When you take an oath before God, put it quickly into effect, because he has no pleasure in the foolish; keep the oath you have taken.

4  It is better not to take an oath than to take an oath and not keep it. 5  Let not your mouth make your flesh do evil. And say not before the angel, It was an error. So that God may not be angry with your words and put an end to the work of your hands. 6  Because much talk comes from dreams and things of no purpose. But let the fear of God be in you. 7  If you see the poor under a cruel yoke, and law and right being violently overturned in a country, be not surprised, because one authority is keeping watch on another and there are higher than they.

The Vanity of Life

8  It is good generally for a country where the land is worked to have a king.

9  He who has a love for silver never has enough silver, or he who has love for wealth, enough profit. This again is to no purpose. 10  When goods are increased, the number of those who take of them is increased; and what profit has the owner but to see them? 11  The sleep of a working man is sweet, if he has little food or much; but to him who is full, sleep will not come. 12  There is a great evil which I have seen under the sun—wealth kept by the owner to be his downfall. 13  And I saw the destruction of his wealth by an evil chance; and when he became the father of a son he had nothing in his hand. 14  As he came from his mother at birth, so does he go again; he gets from his work no reward which he may take away in his hand. 15  And this again is a great evil, that in all points as he came so will he go; and what profit has he in working for the wind? 16  All his days are in the dark, and he has much sorrow, pain, disease, and trouble. 17  This is what I have seen: it is good and fair for a man to take meat and drink and to have joy in all his work under the sun, all the days of his life which God has given him; that is his reward.

18  Every man to whom God has given money and wealth and the power to have pleasure in it and to do his part and have joy in his work: this is given by God. 19  He will not give much thought to the days of his life; because God lets him be taken up with the joy of his heart.

6 1  There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is hard on men; 2  A man to whom God gives money, wealth, and honour so that he has all his desires but God does not give him the power to have joy of it, and a strange man takes it. This is to no purpose and an evil disease. 3  If a man has a hundred children, and his life is long so that the days of his years are great in number, but his soul takes no pleasure in good, and he is not honoured at his death; I say that a birth before its time is better than he. 4  In wind it came and to the dark it will go, and with the dark will its name be covered. 5  Yes, it saw not the sun, and it had no knowledge; it is better with this than with the other. 6  And though he goes on living a thousand years twice over and does not see good, are not the two going to the same place?

7  All the work of man is for his mouth, and still he has a desire for food. 8  What have the wise more than the foolish? and what has the poor man by walking wisely before the living? 9  What the eyes see is better than the wandering of desire. This is to no purpose and a desire for wind. 10  That which is, has been named before, and of what man is there is knowledge. He has no power against one stronger than he.

11  There are words without number for increasing what is to no purpose, but what is man profited by them? 12  Who is able to say what is good for man in life all the days of his foolish life which he goes through like a shade? who will say what is to be after him under the sun?

Wisdom and Folly Compared

7 1  A good name is better than oil of great price, and the day of death than the day of birth. 2  It is better to go to the house of weeping, than to go to the house of feasting; because that is the end of every man, and the living will take it to their hearts. 3  Sorrow is better than joy; when the face is sad the mind gets better. 4  The hearts of the wise are in the house of weeping; but the hearts of the foolish are in the house of joy. 5  It is better to take note of the protest of the wise, than for a man to give ear to the song of the foolish. 6  Like the cracking of thorns under a pot, so is the laugh of a foolish man; and this again is to no purpose.

7  The wise are troubled by the ways of the cruel, and the giving of money is the destruction of the heart. 8  The end of a thing is better than its start, and a gentle spirit is better than pride. 9  Be not quick to let your spirit be angry; because wrath is in the heart of the foolish. 10  Say not, Why were the days which have gone by better than these? Such a question comes not from wisdom.

11  Wisdom together with a heritage is good, and a profit to those who see the sun. 12  Wisdom keeps a man from danger even as money does; but the value of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to its owner. 13  Give thought to the work of God. Who will make straight what he has made bent? 14  In the day of wealth have joy, but in the day of evil take thought: God has put the one against the other, so that man may not be certain what will be after him. 15  These two have I seen in my life which is to no purpose: a good man coming to his end in his righteousness, and an evil man whose days are long in his evil-doing. 16  Be not given overmuch to righteousness and be not over-wise. Why let destruction come on you? 17  Be not evil overmuch, and be not foolish. Why come to your end before your time? 18  It is good to take this in your hand and not to keep your hand from that; he who has the fear of God will be free of the two. 19  Wisdom makes a wise man stronger than ten rulers in a town. 20  There is no man on earth of such righteousness that he does good and is free from sin all his days. 21  Do not give ear to all the words which men say, for fear of hearing the curses of your servant. 22  Your heart has knowledge how frequently others have been cursed by you.

23  All this I have put to the test by wisdom; I said, I will be wise, but it was far from me. 24  Far off is true existence, and very deep; who may have knowledge of it? 25  I gave my mind to knowledge and to searching for wisdom and the reason of things, and to the discovery that sin is foolish, and that to be foolish is to be without one's senses. 26  And I saw a thing more bitter than death, even the woman whose heart is full of tricks and nets, and whose hands are as bands. He with whom God is pleased will get free from her, but the sinner will be taken by her. 27  Look! this I have seen, said the Preacher, taking one thing after another to get the true account, 28  For which my soul is still searching, but I have it not; one man among a thousand have I seen; but a woman among all these I have not seen. 29  This only have I seen, that God made men upright, but they have been searching out all sorts of inventions.

8 1  Who is like the wise man? and to whom is the sense of anything clear? A man's wisdom makes his face shining, and his hard face will be changed. 2  I say to you, Keep the king's law, from respect for the oath of God. 3  Be not quick to go from before him. Be not fixed in an evil design, because he does whatever is pleasing to him. 4  The word of a king has authority; and who may say to him, What is this you are doing? 5  Whoever keeps the law will come to no evil: and a wise man's heart has knowledge of time and of decision.

6  For every purpose there is a time and a decision, because the sorrow of man is great in him. 7  No one is certain what is to be, and who is able to say to him when it will be? 8  No man has authority over the wind, to keep the wind; or is ruler over the day of his death. In war no man's time is free, and evil will not keep the sinner safe.

9  All this have I seen, and have given my heart to all the work which is done under the sun: there is a time when man has power over man for his destruction.

The Inequalities of Life

10  And then I saw evil men put to rest, taken even from the holy place; and they went about and were praised in the town because of what they had done. This again is to no purpose. 11  Because punishment for an evil work comes not quickly, the minds of the sons of men are fully given to doing evil. 12  Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and his life is long, I am certain that it will be well for those who go in fear of God and are in fear before him. 13  But it will not be well for the evil-doer; he will not make his days long like a shade, because he has no fear before God.

14  There is a thing which is to no purpose done on the earth: that there are good men to whom is given the same punishment as those who are evil, and there are evil men who get the reward of the good. I say that this again is to no purpose. 15  So I gave praise to joy, because there is nothing better for a man to do under the sun than to take meat and drink and be happy; for that will be with him in his work all the days of his life which God gives him under the sun. 16  When I gave my mind to the knowledge of wisdom and to seeing the business which is done on the earth (and there are those whose eyes see not sleep by day or by night), 17  Then I saw all the work of God, and that man may not get knowledge of the work which is done under the sun; because, if a man gives hard work to the search he will not get knowledge, and even if the wise man seems to be coming to the end of his search, still he will be without knowledge.


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