All Is Vanity
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Vanity of vanities,
says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities!
All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around 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 flow again.
All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things yet to be
among those who come after.
Whatever has come to be has already been named,
and it is known what man is,
and that he is not able to dispute
with one stronger than he.
The more words,
the more vanity,
and what is the advantage to man?
For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?
I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?
So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?
The Vanity of Living Wisely
So I turned to consider wisdom
and madness and folly.
For what can the man do
who comes after the king?
Only what has already been done.
Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly,
as there is more gain in light than in darkness.
The wise person has his eyes in his head,
but the fool walks in darkness.
And yet I perceived
that the same event happens to all of them.
Then I said in my heart,
“What happens to the fool will happen to me also.
Why then have I been so very wise?”
And I said in my heart
that this also is vanity.
For of the wise as of the fool
there is no enduring remembrance,
seeing that in the days to come
all will have been long forgotten.
How the wise dies just like the fool!
Death Comes to All
But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God. Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him. It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice.
As is the good,
so is the sinner,
and he who swears
is as he who shuns an oath.
This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
For the living know that they will die,
but the dead know nothing,
and they have no more reward,
for the memory of them is forgotten.
Their love and their hate
and their envy have already perished,
and forever they have no more share
in all that is done under the sun.
Enjoy Life with the One You Love
Go, eat your bread in joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
Wisdom Better than Folly
Again I saw that under the sun
the race is not to the swift,
nor the battle to the strong,
nor bread to the wise,
nor riches to the intelligent,
nor favor to those with knowledge,
but time and chance happen to them all.
For man does not know his time.
Like fish that are taken in an evil net,
and like birds that are caught in a snare,
so the children of man are snared at an evil time,
when it suddenly falls upon them.
Man Cannot Know God’s Ways
When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how neither day nor night do one’s eyes see sleep, then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.
Holy Bible, English Standard Version,
as arranged in chronological order by F. Legard Smith