The Folly of Rash Vows
5 1 Guard your steps when you go to God’s house; for to draw near to listen is better than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they don’t know that they do evil. 2 Don’t be rash with your mouth, and don’t let your heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and you on earth. Therefore let your words be few. 3 For as a dream comes with a multitude of cares, so a fool’s speech with a multitude of words.
4 When you vow a vow to God, don’t defer to pay it; for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay that which you vow. 5 It is better that you should not vow, than that you should vow and not pay. 6 Don’t allow your mouth to lead you into sin. Don’t protest before the messenger that this was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice, and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For in the multitude of dreams there are vanities, as well as in many words: but you must fear God.
The Vanity of Life
8 If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent taking away of justice and righteousness in a district, don’t marvel at the matter: for one official is eyed by a higher one; and there are officials over them.
9 Moreover the profit of the earth is for all. The king profits from the field. 10 He who loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase: this also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, those who eat them are increased; and what advantage is there to its owner, except to feast on them with his eyes? 12 The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not allow him to sleep. 13 There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: wealth kept by its owner to his harm. 14 Those riches perish by misfortune, and if he has fathered a son, there is nothing in his hand. 15 As he came forth from his mother’s womb, naked shall he go again as he came, and shall take nothing for his labor, which he may carry away in his hand. 16 This also is a grievous evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go. And what profit does he have who labors for the wind? 17 All his days he also eats in darkness, he is frustrated, and has sickness and wrath.
18 Behold, that which I have seen to be good and proper is for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy good in all his labor, in which he labors under the sun, all the days of his life which God has given him; for this is his portion. 19 Every man also to whom God has given riches and wealth, and has given him power to eat of it, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. 20 For he shall not often reflect on the days of his life; because God occupies him with the joy of his heart.
6 1 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is heavy on men: 2 a man to whom God gives riches, wealth, and honor, so that he lacks nothing for his soul of all that he desires, yet God gives him no power to eat of it, but an alien eats it. This is vanity, and it is an evil disease. 3 If a man fathers a hundred children, and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not filled with good, and moreover 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 Moreover it has not seen the sun nor known it. This has rest rather than the other. 6 Yes, though he live a thousand years twice told, and yet fails to enjoy good, don’t all go to one place?
7 All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled. 8 For what advantage has the wise more than the fool? What has the poor man, that knows how to walk before the living? 9 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire. This also is vanity and a chasing after wind. 10 Whatever has been, its name was given long ago; and it is known what man is; neither can he contend with him who is mightier than he.
11 For there are many words that create vanity. What does that profit man? 12 For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he spends like a shadow? For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?
Wisdom and Folly Compared
7 1 A good name is better than fine perfume; and the day of death better 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: for that is the end of all men, and the living should take this to heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the face the heart is made good. 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 as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool. This also is vanity.
The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. 9 Don’t be hasty in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools. 10 Don’t say, “Why were the former days better than these?” For you do not ask wisely about this.
11 Wisdom is as good as an inheritance. Yes, it is more excellent for those who see the sun. 12 For wisdom is a defense, even as money is a defense; but the excellency of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it. 13 Consider the work of God, for who can make that straight, which he has made crooked? 14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; yes, God has made the one side by side with the other, to the end that man should not find out anything after him. 15 All this have I seen in my days of vanity: there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who lives long in his evildoing. 16 Don’t be overly righteous, neither make yourself overly wise. Why should you destroy yourself? 17 Don’t be too wicked, neither be foolish. Why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you should take hold of this. Yes, also from that don’t withdraw your hand; for he who fears God will come forth from them all. 19 Wisdom is a strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city. 20 Surely there is not a righteous man on earth, who does good and doesn’t sin. 21 Also don’t take heed to all words that are spoken, lest you hear your servant curse you; 22 for often your own heart knows that you yourself have likewise cursed others.
23 All this have I proved in wisdom. I said, “I will be wise;” but it was far from me. 24 That which is, is far off and exceedingly deep. Who can find it out? 25 I turned around, and my heart sought to know and to search out, and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know that wickedness is stupidity, and that foolishness is madness. 26 I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and traps, whose hands are chains. Whoever pleases God shall escape from her; but the sinner will be ensnared by her. 27 Behold, this have I found, says the Preacher, one to another, to find out the scheme; 28 which my soul still seeks; but I have not found: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found. 29 Behold, this only have I found: that God made man upright; but they search for many schemes.
8 1 Who is like the wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man’s wisdom makes his face shine, and the hardness of his face is changed. 2 I say, “Keep the king’s command!” because of the oath to God. 3 Don’t be hasty to go out of his presence. Don’t persist in an evil thing, for he does whatever pleases him, 4 for the king’s word is supreme. Who can say to him, “What are you doing?” 5 Whoever keeps the commandment shall not come to harm, and his wise heart will know the time and procedure.
6 For there is a time and procedure for every purpose, although the misery of man is heavy on him. 7 For he doesn’t know that which will be; for who can tell him how it will be? 8 There is no man who has power over the spirit to contain the spirit; neither does he have power over the day of death. There is no discharge in war; neither shall wickedness deliver those who practice it.
9 All this have I seen, and applied my mind to every work that is done under the sun. There is a time in which one man has power over another to his hurt.
The Inequalities of Life
10 So I saw the wicked buried. Indeed they came also from holiness. They went and were forgotten in the city where they did this. This also is vanity. 11 Because 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 commits crimes a hundred times, and lives long, yet surely I know that it will be better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him. 13 But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he lengthen days like a shadow; because he doesn’t fear God.
14 There is a vanity which is done on the earth, that there are righteous 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 Then I commended mirth, because a man has no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be joyful: for that will accompany him in his labor all the days of his life which God has given him under the sun. 16 When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on the earth (for also there is that neither day nor night sees sleep with his eyes), 17 then I saw all the work of God, that man can’t find out the work that is done under the sun, because however much a man labors to seek it out, yet he won’t find it. Yes even though a wise man thinks he can comprehend it, he won’t be able to find it.