Wisdom and Folly Compared
71 A good name is better than oil of great price, and the day of death than the day of birth. 2 It is better to go to the house of weeping, than to go to the house of feasting; because that is the end of every man, and the living will take it to their hearts. 3 Sorrow is better than joy; when the face is sad the mind gets better. 4 The hearts of the wise are in the house of weeping; but the hearts of the foolish are in the house of joy. 5 It is better to take note of the protest of the wise, than for a man to give ear to the song of the foolish. 6 Like the cracking of thorns under a pot, so is the laugh of a foolish man; and this again is to no purpose.
7 The wise are troubled by the ways of the cruel, and the giving of money is the destruction of the heart. 8 The end of a thing is better than its start, and a gentle spirit is better than pride. 9 Be not quick to let your spirit be angry; because wrath is in the heart of the foolish. 10 Say not, Why were the days which have gone by better than these? Such a question comes not from wisdom.
11 Wisdom together with a heritage is good, and a profit to those who see the sun. 12 Wisdom keeps a man from danger even as money does; but the value of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to its owner. 13 Give thought to the work of God. Who will make straight what he has made bent? 14 In the day of wealth have joy, but in the day of evil take thought: God has put the one against the other, so that man may not be certain what will be after him. 15 These two have I seen in my life which is to no purpose: a good man coming to his end in his righteousness, and an evil man whose days are long in his evil-doing. 16 Be not given overmuch to righteousness and be not over-wise. Why let destruction come on you? 17 Be not evil overmuch, and be not foolish. Why come to your end before your time? 18 It is good to take this in your hand and not to keep your hand from that; he who has the fear of God will be free of the two. 19 Wisdom makes a wise man stronger than ten rulers in a town. 20 There is no man on earth of such righteousness that he does good and is free from sin all his days. 21 Do not give ear to all the words which men say, for fear of hearing the curses of your servant. 22 Your heart has knowledge how frequently others have been cursed by you.
23 All this I have put to the test by wisdom; I said, I will be wise, but it was far from me. 24 Far off is true existence, and very deep; who may have knowledge of it? 25 I gave my mind to knowledge and to searching for wisdom and the reason of things, and to the discovery that sin is foolish, and that to be foolish is to be without one's senses. 26 And I saw a thing more bitter than death, even the woman whose heart is full of tricks and nets, and whose hands are as bands. He with whom God is pleased will get free from her, but the sinner will be taken by her. 27 Look! this I have seen, said the Preacher, taking one thing after another to get the true account, 28 For which my soul is still searching, but I have it not; one man among a thousand have I seen; but a woman among all these I have not seen. 29 This only have I seen, that God made men upright, but they have been searching out all sorts of inventions.
81 Who is like the wise man? and to whom is the sense of anything clear? A man's wisdom makes his face shining, and his hard face will be changed. 2 I say to you, Keep the king's law, from respect for the oath of God. 3 Be not quick to go from before him. Be not fixed in an evil design, because he does whatever is pleasing to him. 4 The word of a king has authority; and who may say to him, What is this you are doing? 5 Whoever keeps the law will come to no evil: and a wise man's heart has knowledge of time and of decision.
6 For every purpose there is a time and a decision, because the sorrow of man is great in him. 7 No one is certain what is to be, and who is able to say to him when it will be? 8 No man has authority over the wind, to keep the wind; or is ruler over the day of his death. In war no man's time is free, and evil will not keep the sinner safe.
9 All this have I seen, and have given my heart to all the work which is done under the sun: there is a time when man has power over man for his destruction.
The Inequalities of Life
10 And then I saw evil men put to rest, taken even from the holy place; and they went about and were praised in the town because of what they had done. This again is to no purpose. 11 Because punishment for an evil work comes not quickly, the minds of the sons of men are fully given to doing evil. 12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and his life is long, I am certain that it will be well for those who go in fear of God and are in fear before him. 13 But it will not be well for the evil-doer; he will not make his days long like a shade, because he has no fear before God.
14 There is a thing which is to no purpose done on the earth: that there are good men to whom is given the same punishment as those who are evil, and there are evil men who get the reward of the good. I say that this again is to no purpose. 15 So I gave praise to joy, because there is nothing better for a man to do under the sun than to take meat and drink and be happy; for that will be with him in his work all the days of his life which God gives him under the sun. 16 When I gave my mind to the knowledge of wisdom and to seeing the business which is done on the earth (and there are those whose eyes see not sleep by day or by night), 17 Then I saw all the work of God, and that man may not get knowledge of the work which is done under the sun; because, if a man gives hard work to the search he will not get knowledge, and even if the wise man seems to be coming to the end of his search, still he will be without knowledge.
91 All this I took to heart, and my heart saw it all: that the upright and the wise and their works are in the hand of God; and men may not be certain if it will be love or hate; all is to no purpose before them. 2 Because to all there is one event, to the upright man and to the evil, to the clean and to the unclean, to him who makes an offering and to him who makes no offering; as is the good so is the sinner; he who takes an oath is as he who has fear of it. 3 This is evil in all things which are done under the sun: that there is one fate for all, and the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; while they have life their hearts are foolish, and after that—to the dead.
4 For him who is joined to all the living there is hope; a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5 The living are conscious that death will come to them, but the dead are not conscious of anything, and they no longer have a reward, because there is no memory of them. 6 Their love and their hate and their envy are now ended; and they have no longer a part for ever in anything which is done under the sun. 7 Come, take your bread with joy, and your wine with a glad heart. God has taken pleasure in your works. 8 Let your clothing be white at all times, and let not your head be without oil. 9 Have joy with the woman of your love all the days of your foolish life which he gives you under the sun. Because that is your part in life and in your work which you do under the sun. 10 Whatever comes to your hand to do with all your power, do it because there is no work, or thought, or knowledge, or wisdom in the place of the dead to which you are going.
11 And again I saw under the sun that the reward goes not to him who is quick, or the fruits of war to the strong; and there is no bread for the wise, or wealth for men of learning, or respect for those who have knowledge; but time and chance come to all. 12 Even man has no knowledge of his time; like fishes taken in an evil net, or like birds taken by deceit, are the sons of men taken in an evil time when it comes suddenly on them.
13 This again I have seen under the sun as wisdom and it seemed great to me. 14 There was a little town and the number of its men was small, and there came a great king against it and made an attack on it, building works of war round about it. 15 Now there was in the town a poor, wise man, and he, by his wisdom, kept the town safe. But no one had any memory of that same poor man. 16 Then I said, Wisdom is better than strength, but the poor man's wisdom is not respected, and his words are not given a hearing. 17 The words of the wise which come quietly to the ear are noted more than the cry of a ruler among the foolish. 18 Wisdom is better than instruments of war, but one sinner is the destruction of much good.