Evil Under the Sun
4 uAgain I vsaw all wthe oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had xno one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. 2 And I ythought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. 3 But zbetter than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
4 Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is avanity1 and a striving after wind.
5 The fool bfolds his hands and ceats his own flesh.
6 dBetter is a handful of equietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.
7 uAgain, I saw vanity under the sun: 8 one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his feyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, g“For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy hbusiness.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, ibut how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
13 Better was ja poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how kto take advice. 14 For he went lfrom prison to the throne, though in his own kingdom he had been born poor. 15 I saw all the living who move about under the sun, along with that2 youth who was to stand in the king’s3 place. 16 There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is mvanity and a striving after wind.
5 nGuard your steps when you go to othe house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to poffer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. 2 1 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore qlet your words be few. 3 For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with rmany words.
4 When syou vow a vow to God, tdo not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. uPay what you vow. 5 vIt is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6 Let not your mouth lead you2 into sin, and do not say before wthe messenger3 that it was xa mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity;4 but5 yGod is the one you must fear.
The Vanity of Wealth and Honor
8 zIf you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, ado not be amazed at the matter, bfor the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them. 9 But this is gain for a land in every way: a king committed to cultivated fields.6
10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? 12 Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.
13 cThere is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, 14 and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. 15 dAs he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. 16 This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what egain is there to him who ftoils for the wind? 17 Moreover, all his days he geats in darkness in much vexation and sickness and anger.
18 Behold, what I have seen to be hgood and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment7 in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his ilot. 19 Everyone also to whom jGod has given kwealth and possessions land power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is mthe gift of God. 20 For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.
6 nThere is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind: 2 a man oto whom pGod gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he qlacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God rdoes not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity;1 it is a grievous evil. 3 If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that sthe days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life’s tgood things, and he also has no uburial, I say that va stillborn child is better off than he. 4 For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered. 5 Moreover, it has not wseen the sun or known anything, yet it finds xrest rather than he. 6 Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy2 no good—do not all go to the one place?
7 yAll the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.3 8 For what advantage has the wise man zover the fool? And what does the poor man have who knows how to conduct himself before the living? 9 Better ais the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the appetite: this also is bvanity and a striving after wind.
10 Whatever has come to be has calready been named, and it is known what man is, and that he is not able to ddispute with one stronger than he. 11 The more words, the more vanity, and what is the advantage to man? 12 For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his evain4 life, which he passes like fa shadow? For who can tell man what will be gafter him under the sun?
The Contrast of Wisdom and Folly
7 hA good name is better than precious ointment,
and ithe day of death than the day of birth.
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will jlay it to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
kfor by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
5 It is lbetter for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise
than to hear the song of fools.
6 mFor as the crackling of nthorns under a pot,
so is the laughter of the fools;
this also is vanity.1
7 Surely ooppression drives the wise into madness,
and pa bribe corrupts the heart.
8 Better is the end of a thing than its beginning,
and qthe patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
9 rBe not quick in your spirit to become angry,
sfor anger lodges in the heart2 of fools.
10 Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance,
an advantage to those who tsee the sun.
12 For the protection of wisdom is like uthe protection of money,
and the advantage of knowledge is that vwisdom preserves the life of him who has it.
13 Consider wthe work of God:
xwho can make straight what he has made crooked?
14 yIn the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, zso that man may not find out anything that will be after him.
15 In my avain3 life I have seen everything. There is ba righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who cprolongs his life in his evildoing. 16 Be not overly righteous, and do not dmake yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? 17 Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. eWhy should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you should take hold of fthis, and from gthat hwithhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.
19 iWisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.
20 Surely jthere is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.
21 Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear kyour servant cursing you. 22 Your heart knows that lmany times you yourself have cursed others.
23 All this I have tested by wisdom. mI said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. 24 That which has been is far off, and ndeep, very deep; owho can find it out?
25 pI turned my heart to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness that is madness. 26 And I find something more qbitter than death: rthe woman whose heart is ssnares and nets, and whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God escapes her, but tthe sinner is taken by her. 27 Behold, this is what I found, says uthe Preacher, while adding one thing to another to find the scheme of things— 28 which my soul has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. vOne man among a thousand I found, but wa woman among all these I have not found. 29 See, this alone I found, that xGod made man upright, but ythey have sought out many schemes.
Keep the King’s Command
8 Who is like the wise?
And who knows the interpretation of a thing?
zA man’s wisdom makes his face shine,
and athe hardness of his face is changed.
2 I say:1 Keep the king’s command, because of bGod’s oath to him.2 3 Be not hasty to cgo from his presence. Do not take your stand in an evil cause, for he does whatever he pleases. 4 For the word of the king is supreme, and dwho may say to him, “What are you doing?” 5 Whoever keeps a command will know no evil thing, and the wise heart will know the proper time and the just way.3 6 For there is a time and a way efor everything, although man’s trouble4 lies heavy on him. 7 For he fdoes not know what is to be, for gwho can tell him how it will be? 8 No man has power to hretain the spirit, ior power over the day of death. There is no jdischarge from war, nor will wickedness deliver those who are given to it. 9 kAll this I observed while applying my heart to all that is done under the sun, when man had power over man to his hurt.
Those Who Fear God Will Do Well
10 Then I saw the wicked buried. They used to go in and out of lthe holy place and were mpraised5 in the city where they had done such things. This also is vanity.6 11 Because nthe sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, othe heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. 12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and pprolongs his life, yet I know that qit will be well with rthose who fear God, because they fear before him. 13 But it will snot be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like ta shadow, because he does not fear before God.
Man Cannot Know God’s Ways
14 There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people uto whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked people vto whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. 15 And I commend joy, for man whas nothing better under the sun but to xeat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.
16 When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see ythe business that is done on earth, how neither zday nor night do one’s eyes see sleep, 17 then I saw all the work of God, that aman 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, bhe cannot find it out.