9 1 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.
The Excellence of Wisdom
10 1 Dead flies make the oil of the perfumer give out an evil smell; more valued is a little wisdom than the great glory of the foolish. 2 The heart of the wise man goes in the right direction; but the heart of a foolish man in the wrong. 3 And when the foolish man is walking in the way, he has no sense and lets everyone see that he is foolish.
4 If the wrath of the ruler is against you, keep in your place; in him who keeps quiet even great sins may be overlooked. 5 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, like an error which comes by chance from a ruler: 6 The foolish are placed in high positions, but men of wealth are kept low. 7 I have seen servants on horses, and rulers walking on the earth as servants. 8 He who makes a hole for others will himself go into it, and for him who makes a hole through a wall the bite of a snake will be a punishment. 9 He who gets out stones from the earth will be damaged by them, and in the cutting of wood there is danger. 10 If the iron has no edge, and he does not make it sharp, then he has to put out more strength; but wisdom makes things go well. 11 If a snake gives a bite before the word of power is said, then there is no longer any use in the word of power.
12 The words of a wise man's mouth are sweet to all, but the lips of a foolish man are his destruction. 13 The first words of his mouth are foolish, and the end of his talk is evil crime. 14 The foolish are full of words; man has no knowledge of what will be; and who is able to say what will be after him? 15 The work of the foolish will be a weariness to him, because he has no knowledge of the way to the town.
16 Unhappy is the land whose king is a boy, and whose rulers are feasting in the morning. 17 Happy is the land whose ruler is of noble birth, and whose chiefs take food at the right time, for strength and not for feasting. 18 When no work is done the roof goes in, and when the hands do nothing water comes into the house. 19 A feast is for laughing, and wine makes glad the heart; but by the one and the other money is wasted. 20 Say not a curse against the king, even in your thoughts; and even secretly say not a curse against the man of wealth; because a bird of the air will take the voice, and that which has wings will give news of it.
11 1 Put out your bread on the face of the waters; for after a long time it will come back to you again. 2 Give a part to seven or even to eight, because you have no knowledge of the evil which will be on the earth. 3 If the clouds are full of rain, they send it down on the earth; and if a tree comes down to the south, or the north, in whatever place it comes down, there it will be. 4 He who is watching the wind will not get the seed planted, and he who is looking at the clouds will not get in the grain. 5 As you have no knowledge of the way of the wind, or of the growth of the bones in the body of her who is with child, even so you have no knowledge of the works of God who has made all. 6 In the morning put your seed into the earth, and till the evening let not your hand be at rest; because you are not certain which will do well, this or that—or if the two will be equally good.
7 Truly the light is sweet, and it is good for the eyes to see the sun. 8 But even if a man's life is long and he has joy in all his years, let him keep in mind the dark days, because they will be great in number. Whatever may come is to no purpose.
Advice to the Young
9 Have joy, O young man, while you are young; and let your heart be glad in the days of your strength, and go in the ways of your heart, and in the desire of your eyes; but be certain that for all these things God will be your judge. 10 So put away trouble from your heart, and sorrow from your flesh; because the early years and the best years are to no purpose.
12 1 Let your mind be turned to your Maker in the days of your strength, while the evil days come not, and the years are far away when you will say, I have no pleasure in them; 2 While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, are not dark, and the clouds come not back after the rain; 3 In the day when the keepers of the house are shaking for fear, and the strong men are bent down, and the women who were crushing the grain are at rest because their number is small, and those looking out of the windows are unable to see; 4 When the doors are shut in the street, and the sound of the crushing is low, and the voice of the bird is soft, and the daughters of music will be made low; 5 And he is in fear of that which is high, and danger is in the road, and the tree is white with flower, and the least thing is a weight, and desire is at an end, because man goes to his last resting-place, and those who are sorrowing are in the streets; 6 Before ever the silver cord is cut, or the vessel of gold is broken, or the pot is broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the water-hole; 7 And the dust goes back to the earth as it was, and the spirit goes back to God who gave it.
8 All things are to no purpose, says the Preacher, all is to no purpose.
The Whole Duty of Man
9 And because the Preacher was wise he still gave the people knowledge; searching out, testing, and putting in order a great number of wise sayings. 10 The Preacher made search for words which were pleasing, but his writing was in words upright and true. 11 The words of the wise are pointed, and sayings grouped together are like nails fixed with a hammer; they are given by one guide. 12 And further, my son, take note of this: of the making of books there is no end, and much learning is a weariness to the flesh.