Ecclesiastes 1

The Words of Agur

30 The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.1

The man declares, I am weary, O God;

I am weary, O God, and worn out.2

Surely I am too mstupid to be a man.

I have not the understanding of a man.

I have not learned wisdom,

nor have I knowledge of nthe Holy One.

Who has oascended to heaven and come down?

Who has pgathered the wind in his fists?

Who has qwrapped up the waters in a garment?

Who has established all rthe ends of the earth?

sWhat is his name, and what is his son's name?

Surely you know!

tEvery word of God proves true;

he is ua shield to those who take refuge in him.

vDo not add to his words,

lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

Two things I ask of you;

deny them not to me wbefore I die:

Remove far from me falsehood and lying;

give me neither poverty nor riches;

feed me with the food that is xneedful for me,

lest I be yfull and zdeny you

and say, aWho is the Lord?

or lest I be poor and steal

band profane the name of my God.

10  cDo not slander a servant to his master,

dlest he curse you, and you be held guilty.

11  There are those3 who ecurse their fathers

and do not bless their mothers.

12  There are those who are fclean in their own eyes

but are not washed of their filth.

13  There are thosehow glofty are their eyes,

how high their eyelids lift!

14  There are those whose teeth are hswords,

whose ifangs are knives,

to jdevour the poor from off the earth,

the needy from among mankind.

15  The leech has two daughters:

Give and Give.4

kThree things are never satisfied;

kfour never say, Enough:

16  lSheol, mthe barren womb,

the land never satisfied with water,

and the fire that never says, Enough.

17  The eye that nmocks a father

and oscorns to obey a mother

will pbe picked out by qthe ravens of the valley

and eaten by the vultures.

18  kThree things are rtoo wonderful for me;

kfour I do not understand:

19  the way of an eagle in the sky,

the way of a serpent on a rock,

the way of a ship on the high seas,

and the way of a man with a virgin.

20  This is the way of an adulteress:

she eats and wipes her mouth

and says, I have done no wrong.

21  Under kthree things sthe earth trembles;

under kfour it cannot bear up:

22  ta slave when he becomes king,

and a fool when he is ufilled with food;

23  van unloved woman when she wgets a husband,

and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress.

24  kFour things on earth are small,

but they are exceedingly wise:

25  xthe ants are a people not strong,

yet they provide their food in the summer;

26  ythe rock badgers are a people not mighty,

yet they make their homes in the cliffs;

27  the locusts have no zking,

yet all of them march in arank;

28  the lizard you can take in your hands,

yet it is in kings' palaces.

29  bThree things are stately in their tread;

bfour are stately in their stride:

30  the lion, which is mightiest among beasts

and cdoes not turn back before any;

31  the dstrutting rooster,5 the he-goat,

and a king whose army is with him.6

32  If you have been foolish, exalting yourself,

or if you have been devising evil,

eput your hand on your mouth.

33  For pressing milk produces curds,

pressing the nose produces blood,

and pressing anger produces strife.

The Words of King Lemuel

31 The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:

What are you doing, my son?1 What are you doing, fson of my womb?

What are you doing, gson of my vows?

Do hnot give your strength to women,

your ways to those iwho destroy kings.

jIt is not for kings, O Lemuel,

it is not for kings kto drink wine,

or for rulers to take lstrong drink,

lest they drink and forget what has been decreed

and mpervert the rights of all the afflicted.

Give strong drink to the one who nis perishing,

and wine to othose in bitter distress;2

plet them drink and forget their poverty

and remember their misery no more.

qOpen your mouth for the mute,

for the rights of all who are destitute.3

Open your mouth, rjudge righteously,

sdefend the rights of tthe poor and needy.

The Woman Who Fears the Lord

10  4 uAn excellent wife who can find?

She is far more precious than vjewels.

11  The heart of her husband trusts in her,

and he will have no lack of gain.

12  She does him good, and not harm,

all the days of her life.

13  She wseeks wool and flax,

and works with willing hands.

14  She is like the ships of the merchant;

she brings her food from afar.

15  She xrises while it is yet night

and yprovides food for her household

and portions for her maidens.

16  She considers a field and buys it;

with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

17  She zdresses herself5 with strength

and makes her arms strong.

18  She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Her lamp does not go out at night.

19  She puts her hands to the distaff,

and her hands hold the spindle.

20  She aopens her hand to bthe poor

and reaches out her hands to bthe needy.

21  She is not afraid of snow for her household,

for all her household are clothed in cscarlet.6

22  She makes dbed coverings for herself;

her clothing is efine linen and fpurple.

23  Her husband is known in gthe gates

when he sits among the elders of the land.

24  She makes hlinen garments and sells them;

she delivers sashes to the merchant.

25  iStrength and dignity are her clothing,

and she laughs at the time to come.

26  She opens her mouth with wisdom,

and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

27  She looks well to the ways of her household

and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28  Her children rise up and call her blessed;

her husband also, and he praises her:

29  Many jwomen have done kexcellently,

but you surpass them all.

30  lCharm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,

but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

31  Give her of the fruit of her hands,

and let her works praise her in the gates.

Ecclesiastes Illustration

Ecclesiastes

All Is Vanity

The words of athe Preacher,1 the son of David, bking in Jerusalem.

cVanity2 of vanities, says athe Preacher,

cvanity of vanities! dAll is vanity.

eWhat fdoes man gain by all the toil

at which he toils under the sun?

A generation goes, and a generation comes,

but gthe earth remains forever.

hThe sun rises, and the sun goes down,

and hastens3 to the place where it rises.

iThe 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 jstreams 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;

kthe eye is not satisfied with seeing,

nor the ear filled with hearing.

lWhat has been is what will be,

and what has been done is what will be done,

and there is nothing new under the sun.

10  Is there a thing of which it is said,

See, this is new?

It has been malready

in the ages before us.

11  There is no nremembrance of former things,4

nor will there be any remembrance

of later things5 yet to be

among those who come after.

The Vanity of Wisdom

12 I othe Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I papplied my heart6 to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy qbusiness that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is rvanity7 and a striving after wind.8

15  sWhat is crooked cannot be made straight,

and what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I said in my heart, I have acquired great twisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. 17 And I uapplied my heart to know wisdom and to know vmadness and folly. I perceived that this also is but ra striving after wind.

18  For win much wisdom is much vexation,

and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

The Vanity of Self-Indulgence

I xsaid in my heart, Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself. But behold, this also was vanity.1 I ysaid of laughter, It is mad, and of pleasure, What use is it? I zsearched with my heart how to cheer my body with winemy heart still guiding me with wisdomand how to lay hold on afolly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I bbuilt houses and planted cvineyards for myself. I made myself dgardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had eslaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of fherds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and ggold and the treasure of hkings and iprovinces. I got jsingers, both men and women, and many kconcubines,2 the delight of the sons of man.

So I became great and lsurpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my lwisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart mfound pleasure in all my toil, and this was my nreward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was ovanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing pto be gained under the sun.

The Vanity of Living Wisely

12 qSo I turned to consider rwisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only swhat has already been done. 13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. 14 tThe wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the usame event happens to all of them. 15 Then I said in my heart, vWhat 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. 16 For of the wise as of the fool there is wno enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. xHow the wise dies just like the fool! 17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for oall is vanity and a striving after wind.

The Vanity of Toil

18 I hated yall my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must zleave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I aturned about and gave my heart up to despair bover all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What has a man from call the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23 For dall his days are full of sorrow, and his ework is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

24 fThere is nothing better for a person than that he should geat and drink and find enjoyment3 in his toil. This also, I saw, is hfrom the hand of God, 25 for apart from him4 who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who pleases him iGod has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given ethe business of gathering and collecting, jonly to give to one who pleases God. kThis also is vanity and a striving after wind.

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season, and la time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to mdie;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to nweep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to odance;

a time to pcast away stones, and a time to qgather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to rrefrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to slose;

a time to keep, and a time to tcast away;

a time to utear, and a time to sew;

a time to vkeep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to whate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

The God-Given Task

What xgain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen ythe business that zGod has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has amade everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot bfind out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is cnothing better for them than to be joyful and to ddo good as long as they live; 13 also ethat everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toilthis is fGod's gift to man.

14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; gnothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, halready has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God iseeks what has been driven away.1

From Dust to Dust

16 Moreover, jI saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even kthere was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. 17 I said in my heart, lGod will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is ma time for every matter and for every work. 18 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 nbeasts. 19 oFor 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.2 20 All go to one place. All are from pthe dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows whether qthe spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? 22 So I saw that there is rnothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for sthat is his lot. Who can bring him to see twhat will be after him?