All Is Vanity
1 1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 2 All is to no purpose, said the Preacher, all the ways of man are to no purpose. 3 What is a man profited by all his work which he does under the sun?
4 One generation goes and another comes; but the earth is for ever. 5 The sun comes up and the sun goes down, and goes quickly back to the place where he came up. 6 The wind goes to the south, turning back again to the north; circling round for ever. 7 All the rivers go down to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the rivers go, there they go again. 8 All things are full of weariness; man may not give their story: the eye has never enough of its seeing, or the ear of its hearing.
9 That which has been, is that which is to be, and that which has been done, is that which will be done, and there is no new thing under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which men say, See, this is new? It has been in the old time which was before us. 11 There is no memory of those who have gone before, and of those who come after there will be no memory for those who are still to come after them.
The Experience of the Preacher
12 I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I gave my heart to searching out in wisdom all things which are done under heaven: it is a hard thing which God has put on the sons of men to do. 14 I have seen all the works which are done under the sun; all is to no purpose, and desire for wind. 15 That which is bent may not be made straight, and that which is not there may not be numbered. 16 I said to my heart, See, I have become great and am increased in wisdom more than any who were before me in Jerusalem—yes, my heart has seen much wisdom and knowledge. 17 And I gave my heart to getting knowledge of wisdom, and of the ways of the foolish. And I saw that this again was desire for wind. 18 Because in much wisdom is much grief, and increase of knowledge is increase of sorrow.
4 1 And again I saw all the cruel things which are done under the sun; there was the weeping of those who have evil done to them, and they had no comforter: and from the hands of the evil-doers there went out power, but they had no comforter. 2 So my praise was for the dead who have gone to their death, more than for the living who still have life. 3 Yes, happier than the dead or the living seemed he who has not ever been, who has not seen the evil which is done under the sun.
4 And I saw that the cause of all the work and of everything which is done well was man's envy of his neighbour. This again is to no purpose and a desire for wind. 5 The foolish man, folding his hands, takes the flesh of his body for food. 6 One hand full of rest is better than two hands full of trouble and desire for wind.
7 Then I came back, and I saw an example of what is to no purpose under the sun. 8 It is one who is by himself, without a second, and without son or brother; but there is no end to all his work, and he has never enough of wealth. For whom, then, am I working and keeping myself from pleasure? This again is to no purpose, and a bitter work. 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their work. 10 And if one has a fall, the other will give him a hand; but unhappy is the man who is by himself, because he has no helper. 11 So again, if two are sleeping together they are warm, but how may one be warm by himself? 12 And two attacked by one would be safe, and three cords twisted together are not quickly broken.
13 A young man who is poor and wise is better than a king who is old and foolish and will not be guided by the wisdom of others. 14 Because out of a prison the young man comes to be king, though by birth he was only a poor man in the kingdom. 15 I saw all the living under the sun round the young man who was to be ruler in place of the king. 16 There was no end of all the people, of all those whose head he was, but they who come later will have no delight in him. This again is to no purpose and desire for wind. 17 Put your feet down with care when you go to the house of God, for it is better to give ear than to make the burned offerings of the foolish, whose knowledge is only of doing evil.