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.
9 1 All this I took to heart, and my heart saw it all: that the upright and the wise and their works are in the hand of God; and men may not be certain if it will be love or hate; all is to no purpose before them. 2 Because to all there is one event, to the upright man and to the evil, to the clean and to the unclean, to him who makes an offering and to him who makes no offering; as is the good so is the sinner; he who takes an oath is as he who has fear of it. 3 This is evil in all things which are done under the sun: that there is one fate for all, and the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; while they have life their hearts are foolish, and after that—to the dead.
4 For him who is joined to all the living there is hope; a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5 The living are conscious that death will come to them, but the dead are not conscious of anything, and they no longer have a reward, because there is no memory of them. 6 Their love and their hate and their envy are now ended; and they have no longer a part for ever in anything which is done under the sun. 7 Come, take your bread with joy, and your wine with a glad heart. God has taken pleasure in your works. 8 Let your clothing be white at all times, and let not your head be without oil. 9 Have joy with the woman of your love all the days of your foolish life which he gives you under the sun. Because that is your part in life and in your work which you do under the sun. 10 Whatever comes to your hand to do with all your power, do it because there is no work, or thought, or knowledge, or wisdom in the place of the dead to which you are going.
11 And again I saw under the sun that the reward goes not to him who is quick, or the fruits of war to the strong; and there is no bread for the wise, or wealth for men of learning, or respect for those who have knowledge; but time and chance come to all. 12 Even man has no knowledge of his time; like fishes taken in an evil net, or like birds taken by deceit, are the sons of men taken in an evil time when it comes suddenly on them.
13 This again I have seen under the sun as wisdom and it seemed great to me. 14 There was a little town and the number of its men was small, and there came a great king against it and made an attack on it, building works of war round about it. 15 Now there was in the town a poor, wise man, and he, by his wisdom, kept the town safe. But no one had any memory of that same poor man. 16 Then I said, Wisdom is better than strength, but the poor man's wisdom is not respected, and his words are not given a hearing. 17 The words of the wise which come quietly to the ear are noted more than the cry of a ruler among the foolish. 18 Wisdom is better than instruments of war, but one sinner is the destruction of much good.
The Excellence of Wisdom
10 1 Dead flies make the oil of the perfumer give out an evil smell; more valued is a little wisdom than the great glory of the foolish. 2 The heart of the wise man goes in the right direction; but the heart of a foolish man in the wrong. 3 And when the foolish man is walking in the way, he has no sense and lets everyone see that he is foolish.
4 If the wrath of the ruler is against you, keep in your place; in him who keeps quiet even great sins may be overlooked. 5 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, like an error which comes by chance from a ruler: 6 The foolish are placed in high positions, but men of wealth are kept low. 7 I have seen servants on horses, and rulers walking on the earth as servants. 8 He who makes a hole for others will himself go into it, and for him who makes a hole through a wall the bite of a snake will be a punishment. 9 He who gets out stones from the earth will be damaged by them, and in the cutting of wood there is danger. 10 If the iron has no edge, and he does not make it sharp, then he has to put out more strength; but wisdom makes things go well. 11 If a snake gives a bite before the word of power is said, then there is no longer any use in the word of power.
12 The words of a wise man's mouth are sweet to all, but the lips of a foolish man are his destruction. 13 The first words of his mouth are foolish, and the end of his talk is evil crime. 14 The foolish are full of words; man has no knowledge of what will be; and who is able to say what will be after him? 15 The work of the foolish will be a weariness to him, because he has no knowledge of the way to the town.
16 Unhappy is the land whose king is a boy, and whose rulers are feasting in the morning. 17 Happy is the land whose ruler is of noble birth, and whose chiefs take food at the right time, for strength and not for feasting. 18 When no work is done the roof goes in, and when the hands do nothing water comes into the house. 19 A feast is for laughing, and wine makes glad the heart; but by the one and the other money is wasted. 20 Say not a curse against the king, even in your thoughts; and even secretly say not a curse against the man of wealth; because a bird of the air will take the voice, and that which has wings will give news of it.
11 1 Put out your bread on the face of the waters; for after a long time it will come back to you again. 2 Give a part to seven or even to eight, because you have no knowledge of the evil which will be on the earth. 3 If the clouds are full of rain, they send it down on the earth; and if a tree comes down to the south, or the north, in whatever place it comes down, there it will be. 4 He who is watching the wind will not get the seed planted, and he who is looking at the clouds will not get in the grain. 5 As you have no knowledge of the way of the wind, or of the growth of the bones in the body of her who is with child, even so you have no knowledge of the works of God who has made all. 6 In the morning put your seed into the earth, and till the evening let not your hand be at rest; because you are not certain which will do well, this or that—or if the two will be equally good.
7 Truly the light is sweet, and it is good for the eyes to see the sun. 8 But even if a man's life is long and he has joy in all his years, let him keep in mind the dark days, because they will be great in number. Whatever may come is to no purpose.
Advice to the Young
9 Have joy, O young man, while you are young; and let your heart be glad in the days of your strength, and go in the ways of your heart, and in the desire of your eyes; but be certain that for all these things God will be your judge. 10 So put away trouble from your heart, and sorrow from your flesh; because the early years and the best years are to no purpose.
12 1 Let your mind be turned to your Maker in the days of your strength, while the evil days come not, and the years are far away when you will say, I have no pleasure in them; 2 While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, are not dark, and the clouds come not back after the rain; 3 In the day when the keepers of the house are shaking for fear, and the strong men are bent down, and the women who were crushing the grain are at rest because their number is small, and those looking out of the windows are unable to see; 4 When the doors are shut in the street, and the sound of the crushing is low, and the voice of the bird is soft, and the daughters of music will be made low; 5 And he is in fear of that which is high, and danger is in the road, and the tree is white with flower, and the least thing is a weight, and desire is at an end, because man goes to his last resting-place, and those who are sorrowing are in the streets; 6 Before ever the silver cord is cut, or the vessel of gold is broken, or the pot is broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the water-hole; 7 And the dust goes back to the earth as it was, and the spirit goes back to God who gave it.
8 All things are to no purpose, says the Preacher, all is to no purpose.
The Whole Duty of Man
9 And because the Preacher was wise he still gave the people knowledge; searching out, testing, and putting in order a great number of wise sayings. 10 The Preacher made search for words which were pleasing, but his writing was in words upright and true. 11 The words of the wise are pointed, and sayings grouped together are like nails fixed with a hammer; they are given by one guide. 12 And further, my son, take note of this: of the making of books there is no end, and much learning is a weariness to the flesh.