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Reflections of a Royal Philosopher

The words of the Teacher,[a] the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher,[b]
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What do people gain from all the toil
    at which they toil under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
    but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun goes down,
    and hurries to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south,
    and goes around to the north;
round and round goes the wind,
    and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
    but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
    there they continue to flow.
All things[c] are wearisome;
    more than one can express;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
    or the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
It has already been,
    in the ages before us.
11 The people of long ago are not remembered,
    nor will there be any remembrance
of people yet to come
    by those who come after them.

The Futility of Seeking Wisdom

12 I, the Teacher,[d] when king over Israel in Jerusalem, 13 applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. 14 I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.[e]

15 What is crooked cannot be made straight,
    and what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I said to myself, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I applied my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a chasing after wind.[f]

18 For in much wisdom is much vexation,
and those who increase knowledge increase sorrow.

Footnotes

  1. Ecclesiastes 1:1 Heb Qoheleth, traditionally rendered Preacher
  2. Ecclesiastes 1:2 Heb Qoheleth, traditionally rendered Preacher
  3. Ecclesiastes 1:8 Or words
  4. Ecclesiastes 1:12 Heb Qoheleth, traditionally rendered Preacher
  5. Ecclesiastes 1:14 Or a feeding on wind. See Hos 12.1
  6. Ecclesiastes 1:17 Or a feeding on wind. See Hos 12.1

Everything Is Meaningless

The words of the Teacher,[a](A) son of David, king in Jerusalem:(B)

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”(C)

What do people gain from all their labors
    at which they toil under the sun?(D)
Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.(E)
The sun rises and the sun sets,
    and hurries back to where it rises.(F)
The wind blows to the south
    and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
    ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
    yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
    there they return again.(G)
All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,(H)
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;(I)
    there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,(J)
    and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.(K)

Wisdom Is Meaningless

12 I, the Teacher,(L) was king over Israel in Jerusalem.(M) 13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens.(N) What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind!(O) 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.(P)

15 What is crooked cannot be straightened;(Q)
    what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me;(R) I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom,(S) and also of madness and folly,(T) but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.

18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;(U)
    the more knowledge, the more grief.(V)

Footnotes

  1. Ecclesiastes 1:1 Or the leader of the assembly; also in verses 2 and 12

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