The Folly of Rash Vows
5 1 Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. 2 Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few. 3 For a dream comes through much activity, And a fool's voice is known by his many words.
4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed-- 5 Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. 6 Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God.
The Vanity of Life
8 If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them.
9 Moreover the profit of the land is for all; even the king is served from the field. 10 He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, They increase who eat them; So what profit have the owners Except to see them with their eyes? 12 The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, Whether he eats little or much; But the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep. 13 There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun: Riches kept for their owner to his hurt. 14 But those riches perish through misfortune; When he begets a son, there is nothing in his hand. 15 As he came from his mother's womb, naked shall he return, To go as he came; And he shall take nothing from his labor Which he may carry away in his hand. 16 And this also is a severe evil-- Just exactly as he came, so shall he go. And what profit has he who has labored for the wind? 17 All his days he also eats in darkness, And he has much sorrow and sickness and anger.
18 Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. 19 As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor--this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.
6 1 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: 2 A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it. This is vanity, and it is an evil affliction. 3 If a man begets a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with goodness, or indeed he has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better than he-- 4 for it comes in vanity and departs in darkness, and its name is covered with darkness. 5 Though it has not seen the sun or known anything, this has more rest than that man, 6 even if he lives a thousand years twice--but has not seen goodness. Do not all go to one place?
7 All the labor of man is for his mouth, And yet the soul is not satisfied. 8 For what more has the wise man than the fool? What does the poor man have, Who knows how to walk before the living? 9 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind. 10 Whatever one is, he has been named already, For it is known that he is man; And he cannot contend with Him who is mightier than he.
11 Since there are many things that increase vanity, How is man the better? 12 For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow? Who can tell a man what will happen after him under the sun?
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 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 take it to heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better. 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 like the crackling of thorns under a pot, So is the laughter of the fool. This also is vanity.
7 Surely oppression destroys a wise man's reason, And a bribe debases the heart. 8 The end of a thing is better than its beginning; The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. 9 Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools. 10 Do not say, "Why were the former days better than these?" For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.
11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance, And profitable to those who see the sun. 12 For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it. 13 Consider the work of God; For who can make straight what He has made crooked? 14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other, So that man can find out nothing that will come after him. 15 I have seen everything in my days of vanity: There is a just man who perishes in his righteousness, And there is a wicked man who prolongs life in his wickedness. 16 Do not be overly righteous, Nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself? 17 Do not be overly wicked, Nor be foolish: Why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you grasp this, And also not remove your hand from the other; For he who fears God will escape them all. 19 Wisdom strengthens the wise More than ten rulers of the city. 20 For there is not a just man on earth who does good And does not sin. 21 Also do not take to heart everything people say, Lest you hear your servant cursing you. 22 For many times, also, your own heart has known That even you have cursed others.
23 All this I have proved by wisdom. I said, "I will be wise"; But it was far from me. 24 As for that which is far off and exceedingly deep, Who can find it out? 25 I applied my heart to know, To search and seek out wisdom and the reason of things, To know the wickedness of folly, Even of foolishness and madness. 26 And I find more bitter than death The woman whose heart is snares and nets, Whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God shall escape from her, But the sinner shall be trapped by her. 27 "Here is what I have found," says the Preacher, "Adding one thing to the other to find out the reason, 28 Which my soul still seeks but I cannot find: One man among a thousand I have found, But a woman among all these I have not found. 29 Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, But they have sought out many schemes."
8 1 Who is like a wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man's wisdom makes his face shine, And the sternness of his face is changed. 2 I say, "Keep the king's commandment for the sake of your oath to God. 3 Do not be hasty to go from his presence. Do not take your stand for an evil thing, for he does whatever pleases him." 4 Where the word of a king is, there is power; And who may say to him, "What are you doing?" 5 He who keeps his command will experience nothing harmful; And a wise man's heart discerns both time and judgment,
6 Because for every matter there is a time and judgment, Though the misery of man increases greatly. 7 For he does not know what will happen; So who can tell him when it will occur? 8 No one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit, And no one has power in the day of death. There is no release from that war, And wickedness will not deliver those who are given to it.
9 All this I have seen, and applied my heart to every work that is done under the sun: There is a time in which one man rules over another to his own hurt.
The Inequalities of Life
10 Then I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of holiness, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done. This also is vanity. 11 Because the 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 does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. 13 But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God.
14 There is a vanity which occurs on earth, that there are just men to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. 15 So I commended enjoyment, because a man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry; for this will remain with him in his labor all the days of his life which God gives him under the sun. 16 When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to see the business that is done on earth, even though one sees no sleep day or night, 17 then I saw all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. For though a man labors to discover it, yet he will not find it; moreover, though a wise man attempts to know it, he will not be able to find it.