Ecclesiastes 7-12 Darby’s Translation

Wisdom and Folly Compared

7 1  A [good] name is better than precious ointment, 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: in that that is the end of all men, and the living taketh it to heart. 3  Vexation is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. 4  The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools in the house of mirth. 5  It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise, than 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 oppression maketh a wise man mad, and a gift destroyeth the heart. 8  Better is the end of a thing than its beginning; better is a patient spirit than a proud spirit. 9  Be not hasty in thy spirit to be vexed; for vexation resteth in the bosom of fools. 10  Say not, How is it that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this.

11  Wisdom is as good as an inheritance, and profitable to them that see the sun. 12  For wisdom is a defence [as] money is a defence; but the excellency of knowledge is, [that] wisdom maketh them that possess it to live. 13  Consider the work of God; for who can make straight what he hath made crooked? 14  In the day of prosperity enjoy good, and in the day of adversity consider: God hath also set the one beside the other, to the end that man should find out nothing [of what shall be] after him. 15  All [this] have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a righteous [man] that perisheth by his righteousness, and there is a wicked [man] that prolongeth [his days] by his wickedness. 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 cometh forth from them all. 19  Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty [men] that are in a city. 20  Surely there is not a righteous man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not. 21  Also give not heed unto all words that are spoken, lest thou hear thy servant curse thee. 22  For also thine own heart knoweth that oftentimes thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.

23  All this have I tried by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me. 24  Whatever hath been, is far off, and exceeding deep: who will find it out? 25  I turned, I and my heart, to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom and reason, and to know wickedness to be folly, and foolishness to be madness; 26  and I found more bitter than death the woman whose heart is nets and snares, [and] whose hands are bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be caught by her. 27  See this which I have found, saith the Preacher, [searching] one by one to find out the reason; 28  which my soul yet seeketh, and I have not found: one man among a thousand have I found, but a woman among all those have I not found. 29  Only see this which I have found: that God made man upright, but they have sought out many devices.

8 1  Who is as the wise? and who knoweth the explanation of things? A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face is changed. 2  I [say], Keep the king's commandment, and [that] on account of the oath of God. 3  Be not hasty to go out of his sight; persist not in an evil thing: for he doeth whatever pleaseth him, 4  because the word of a king is 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 knoweth time and manner.

6  For to every purpose there is time and manner. For 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 who hath control over the spirit to retain the spirit; and no one hath control over the day of death; and there is no discharge in that war, neither shall wickedness deliver those that are 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 when man ruleth man to his hurt.

The Inequalities of Life

10  And I have also seen the wicked buried and going away; and such as had acted rightly went 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 children of men is fully set in them to do evil. 12  Though a sinner do evil a hundred times, and prolong his [days], yet I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, because they fear before him; 13  but it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong [his] days 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; and there are wicked [men] to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. 15  And I commended mirth, because there is nothing better for man under the sun than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry; for that shall abide with him of his labour 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 saw that all [is] the work of God, [and] that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because however man may labour to seek [it] out, yet doth he not find [it]; and even, if a wise [man] think to know [it], he shall not be able to find [it] out.

9 1  For all this I laid to my heart and [indeed] to investigate all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God; man knoweth neither love nor hatred: all is before them. 2  All things [come] alike to all: 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; he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath. 3  This is an evil among all that is done under the sun, that one thing befalleth all: yea, also the heart of the children of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live; and after that, [they have to go] to the dead.

4  For to him that is joined to 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  Their love also, and their hatred, and their envy is already perished; neither have they any more for ever a portion in all that is done under the sun. 7  Go, 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  Enjoy life with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity; for that is thy portion in life, and in thy labour wherein thou art labouring under the sun. 10  Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do 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 the intelligent, nor yet favour to men of knowledge; 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 taken with the snare, like them are the children of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.

13  This also have I seen as wisdom under the sun, and it was great unto me. 14  There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and encompassed it, and built great bulwarks against it: 15  and there was found in it a poor wise man, who by his wisdom delivered the city; but no man remembered that poor man. 16  Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength; but the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. 17  The words of the wise are heard in quiet more 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 ointment of the apothecary to stink [and] ferment; [so] a little folly is weightier than wisdom [and] honour. 2  The heart of a wise [man] is at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left. 3  Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his sense 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 quietness pacifieth great offences. 5  There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, as an error [that] proceedeth from the ruler: 6  folly is set in great dignities, but the rich sit in a low place. 7  I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth. 8  He that diggeth a pit falleth into it; and whoso breaketh down a hedge, a serpent biteth him. 9  Whoso removeth stones is hurt therewith; he that cleaveth wood is endangered thereby. 10  If the iron be blunt, and one do not whet the edge, then must he apply more strength; but wisdom is profitable to give success. 11  If the serpent bite before enchantment, then the charmer hath no advantage.

12  The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool swallow up himself. 13  The beginning of the words of his mouth is folly; and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. 14  And the fool multiplieth words: [yet] man knoweth not what shall be; and what shall be after him, who will tell him? 15  The labour of fools wearieth them, because they know 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 a son of nobles, and thy princes eat in [due] season, for strength, and not for drunkenness! 18  By much sloth fulness the framework falleth in; and through idleness of the hands the house drippeth. 19  A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh life merry; but money answereth everything. 20  Curse not the king, no, not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for the bird of the air will carry the voice, and that which hath wings will 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, and also to 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 it shall be. 4  He that observeth the wind will not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds will not reap. 5  As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, how the bones [grow] in the womb of her that is with child, even so thou knowest not the work of God who maketh 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  Now the light is sweet, and pleasant is it to the eyes to see the sun; 8  but if a man live many years, [and] rejoice in them all, yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many: all that cometh is vanity.

Advice to the Young

9  Rejoice, 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 that for all these [things] God will bring thee into judgment. 10  Then remove discontent from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh; for childhood and youth are vanity.

12 1  And remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw nigh, of which thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; 2  before the sun, and the light, and the moon, and the stars, be darkened, and the clouds return after the rain; 3  in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows are darkened, 4  and the doors are shut toward the street; when the sound of the grinding is subdued, and they rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low; 5  they are also afraid of what is high, and terrors are in the way, and the almond is despised, and the grasshopper is a burden, and the caper-berry is without effect; (for man goeth to his age-long home, and the mourners go about the streets;) 6  —before the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be shattered at the fountain, or the wheel be broken at the cistern; 7  and the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit return unto God who gave it.

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

The Whole Duty of Man

9  And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; and 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 is upright, words of truth. 11  The words of the wise are as goads, and the collections [of them] as nails fastened in: they are given from one shepherd. 12  And besides, my son, be warned by them: of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

13  Let us hear the end of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole of man. 14  For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.


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