Ecclesiastes 1-4 Darby’s Translation

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All Is Vanity

1 1  The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 2  Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities! all is vanity. 3  What profit hath man of all his labour wherewith he laboureth under the sun?

4  [One] generation passeth away, and [another] generation cometh, but the earth standeth for ever. 5  The sun also riseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to its place where it ariseth. 6  The wind goeth towards the south, and turneth about towards the north: it turneth about continually, and the wind returneth again to its circuits. 7  All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full: unto the place whither the rivers go, thither they go again. 8  All things are full of toil; none can express it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

9  That which hath been is that which shall be; and that which hath been done is that which will be done: and there is nothing new under the sun. 10  Is there a thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? It hath been already in the ages which were before us. 11  There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be remembrance of things that are to come with those who shall live afterwards.

The Experience of the Preacher

12  I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13  And I applied my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens: this grievous occupation hath God given to the children of men to weary themselves therewith. 14  I have seen all the works that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and pursuit of the wind. 15  That which is crooked cannot be made straight; and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. 16  I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I have become great and have acquired wisdom more than all they that have been before me over Jerusalem; and my heart hath seen much of wisdom and knowledge. 17  And I applied my heart to the knowledge of wisdom, and to the knowledge of madness and folly: I perceived that this also is a striving after the wind. 18  For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

2 1  I said in my heart, Come now, I will try thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure. But behold, this also is vanity. 2  I said of laughter, Madness! and of mirth, What availeth it? 3  I searched in my heart how to cherish my flesh with wine, while practising my heart with wisdom; and how to lay hold on folly, till I should see what was that good for the children of men which they should do under the heavens all the days of their life. 4  I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards; 5  I made me gardens and parks, and I planted trees in them of every kind of fruit; 6  I made me ponds of water, to water therewith the wood, where the trees are reared. 7  I acquired servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of herds and flocks, above all that had been in Jerusalem before me. 8  I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces; I got me men-singers and women-singers, and the delights of the children of men, a wife and concubines. 9  And I became great, and increased more than all that had been before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. 10  And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them: I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour, and this was my portion from all my labour. 11  Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that it had cost me to do [them]; and behold, all was vanity and pursuit of the wind, and there was no profit under the sun.

12  And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly; for what shall the man [do] that cometh after the king?—that which hath already been done. 13  And I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as light excelleth darkness. 14  The wise man's eyes are in his head, and the fool walketh in darkness; but I myself also perceived that one event happeneth to them all. 15  And I said in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool so will it happen even to me; and why was I then so wise? Then I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 16  For there shall be no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; because everything is already forgotten in the days which come. And how dieth the wise even as the fool?

17  And I hated life; for the work that is wrought under the sun was grievous unto me; for all is vanity and pursuit of the wind. 18  And I hated all my labour wherewith I had been toiling under the sun, because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. 19  And who knoweth whether he will be a wise [man] or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour at which I have laboured, and wherein I have been wise under the sun. This also is vanity. 20  Then I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour wherewith I had laboured under the sun. 21  For there is a man whose labour hath been with wisdom, and with knowledge, and with skill, and who leaveth it to a man that hath not laboured therein, to be his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22  For what will man have of all his labour and of the striving of his heart, wherewith he hath wearied himself under the sun? 23  For all his days are sorrows, and his travail vexation: even in the night his heart taketh no rest. This also is vanity. 24  There is nothing good for man, but that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God. 25  For who can eat, or who be eager, more than I? 26  For he giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy; but to the sinner he giveth travail to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good in God's sight. This also is vanity and pursuit of the wind.

A Time for Everything

3 1  To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens: 2  A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which 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 cast 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 cast away; 7  A time to rend, 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 of war, and a time of peace. 9  What profit hath he that worketh from that wherein he laboureth? 10  I have seen the travail that God hath given to the sons of men to toil in.

11  He hath made everything beautiful in its time; also he hath set the world in their heart, so that man findeth not out from the beginning to the end the work that God doeth. 12  I know that there is nothing good for them but to rejoice and to do well in their life; 13  yea also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy good in all his labour, it is the gift of God. 14  I know that whatever God doeth, it shall be for ever; there is nothing to be added to it, nor anything to be taken from it; and God doeth [it], that [men] should fear before him. 15  That which is was long ago, and that which is to be hath already been; and God bringeth back again that which is past.

The Injustice of Life

16  And moreover I saw under the sun, that in the place of judgment, wickedness was there; and in the place of righteousness, wickedness was there. 17  I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked; for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work. 18  I said in my heart, It is thus with the children of men, that God may prove them, and that they should see that they themselves are but beasts. 19  For what befalleth the children of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other, and they have all one breath; and man hath no pre-eminence above the beast: for all is vanity. 20  All go unto one place: all are of the dust, and all return to dust. 21  Who knoweth the spirit of the children of men? Doth it go upwards? and the spirit of the beasts, doth it go downwards to the earth? 22  And I have seen that there is nothing better than that man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion; for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

4 1  And I returned and saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors was power, and they had no comforter. 2  Then I praised the dead who are already dead more than the living who are yet alive; 3  and more fortunate than both is he who hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

4  And I saw all labour, and all success of work, that it is man's jealousy of his neighbour. This also is vanity and pursuit of the wind. 5  The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh. 6  Better is a handful with quietness, than both hands full with labour and pursuit of the wind.

7  And I returned and saw vanity under the sun. 8  There is one [alone] and without a second; also he hath neither son nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour, neither is his eye satisfied with riches, and [he saith not], For whom then am I labouring, and depriving my soul of good? This also is vanity and a grievous occupation. 9  Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. 10  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, and who hath not another to lift him up! 11  Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one alone be warm? 12  And if a [man] overpower the one, the two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

13  Better is a poor but wise youth than an old and foolish king, who knoweth no more how to be admonished. 14  For out of the prison-house he came forth to reign, although he was born poor in his kingdom. 15  I saw all the living that walk under the sun, with the child, the second, that should stand up in his stead. 16  [There is] no end of all the people, of all that stood before them; those however that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after the wind.

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