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Ecclesiastes or, the Preacher


Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Chapter 1

1. The words of Kohlat, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
3. What profit has a man of all his labor at which he toils under the sun?
4. One generation passes away and another generation comes; but the earth abides for ever.
5. The sun rises and the sun goes down and hastens to the place where it rose that from thence it may rise again.
6. The wind blows toward the south, and turns about to the north; it whirls continually, and returns again according to its circuits.
7. All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; to the place from whence the rivers flow, thither they return to flow again.
8. All things are wearisome; a man is not satisfied with utterance, his eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor his ear satisfied with hearing.
9. The thing that has been is that which shall be; and that which has been done is that which shall be done; and there is nothing new under the sun.
10. Whosoever speaks and says, Look, this is new, should know that it already has been in the ages which were before us.
11. There is no remembrance of former generations; neither shall there be any remembrance of generations that are to come with those that will come after.
12. the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem.
13. And I gave my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven; to be engaged in it as a difficult task that God has given to the sons of men.
14. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
15. The chaotic cannot be made orderly; and he who is lacking knowledge cannot be supplied with it.
16. I have communed with my own heart, saying, Lo, I have become great, and have gotten more wisdom than all they who were before me in Jerusalem; yea, my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.
17. And I gave my heart to know wisdom and proverbs and understanding; but I have perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.
18. Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

Chapter 2

1. I said to my heart, Come now, I will prove you with joy; therefore enjoy good things; and, behold, this also is vanity.
2. I said of laughter, What pleasure is there in it? And of mirth, What do you accomplish?
3. I thought in my heart to give myself to wine, but my heart reasoned with wisdom; and I laid hold upon understanding, till I might see what was good for the sons of men, which they should do under the sun all the days of their lives
4. I multiplied my servants; I built myself houses; I planted vineyards for myself:
5. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them trees of all kinds of fruit;
6. I made myself pools of water, to irrigate the nursery that produces trees.
7. I got for myself menservants and maidservants, and had a great household; also I had great possessions of cattle and flocks, above all who were before me in Jerusalem.
8. I gathered for myself silver and gold and the possessions of kings and cities; I got me men singers and women singers and the delights of the sons of men, and I appointed for myself butlers and waitresses.
9. So I became great, and my wealth increased more than all who were before me in Jerusalem; my wisdom also remained with me.
10. And whatsoever my eyes desired I did not keep from them; I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labor; and this was my portion of all my labor.
11. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought and on the labor that I had labored to do; and, behold all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun
12. So I looked around to behold wisdom and transgression and folly; for who is the man who can enter into judgment with the king? Especially with him who had created him.
13. Then I saw that wisdom excels folly, just as light excels darkness.
14. The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walks in darkness; and I myself perceived also that one misfortune happens to them all.
15. Then I said in my heart, The misfortune of the fool will happen to me also; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, This also is vanity.
16. The fool speaks superficially, but there is no remembrance of the wise man more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is, in the days to come shall be forgotten. And just as the wise man dies, so the fool.
17. Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous to me; for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
18. Yes, I hated all my labor with which I had labored under the sun because I must leave it to the man who shall come after me.
19. And who knows whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have rule over all my labor wherein I have labored, and wherein I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity.
20. Therefore I changed my view concerning all the toil in which I had labored under the sun.
21. There is a man who labors with wisdom and knowledge and success; and yet he leaves his portion to a man who has not labored for it. This also is vanity and a great misfortune.
22. For what profit shall a man have of all his labor and of the desire of his heart wherein he has labored under the sun?
23. For all his days are full of sorrows, and his travail is grief; yea, even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity.
24. There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it is from the hand of the Lord.
25. For who can eat or who can drink except he?
26. For, to a man who is good in his presence, God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy; but to the sinner he gives toil, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him who is good in the presence of the Lord. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.

Chapter 3
1. To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the sun;
2. A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3. A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build up;
4. A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance;
5. A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing
6. A time to lose and a time to seek; a time to tie up and a time to untie;
7. a time to rend and a time to sew; a time to keep silent and a time to speak
8. A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.
9. Who profit has the worker in his labor?
10. I have seen the toil which the Lord has given to the sons of men to be engaged therewith.
11. He has made everything beautiful in its time; also he has made the world dear to man's heart, so that no man can find out the works which the Lord has done from the beginning to the end.
12. I know that there is no good in worldly things, but for men to rejoice and to do good in their lives.
13. And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor; it is the gift of the Lord.
14. I know that whatsoever the Lord does, it shall be for ever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it; and the Lord has so made it that men should reverence him.
15. That which is now, already has been; and that which is to be, has already been; and God will avenge him who has been persecuted.
16. And moreover, I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and in the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.
17. I said in my heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked; for there is a time for every purpose and for every work.
18. I meditated in my heart concerning the estate of the sons of men whom God has created, and saw that they are like beasts.
19. For the same misfortune which befalls the sons of men befalls beasts; even one misfortune befalls them; as the one dies, so dies the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that man has no preeminence over the beast; for all is vanity.
20. All go to one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
21. Who knows whether the spirit of men goes upward and the spirit of the beasts goes downward under the earth?
22. Wherefore I saw that there is nothing better in them but that man should rejoice in his works; for that is his portion; for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

Chapter 4
1. So I turned and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun; and behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no comforter to deliver them from the hand of their oppressors, having neither strength nor helper.
2. Wherefore I praised the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still alive.
3. But, better is he who has not yet been born than both of them, because he has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
4. Then I saw that all the labor and all the work is successful because a man is more zealous than his neighbor. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.
5. The fool folds his hands together and suffers hunger.
6. Better is a handful with quietness than both hands full with toil and vexation of spirit.
7. Then I turned, and I saw vanity under the sun.
8. When there is but one man, and not a second, and he has neither son nor brother, there is no end to all his labor. Neither are his eyes satisfied with riches; neither does he say, For whom am I laboring and denying myself good things? This is also vanity, and a grievous vexation.
9. Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor;
10. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls; for there is none to lift him up.
11. Again, if two sleep together, they will be warm; but how can one be warm alone?
12. And if one is too strong for him, two shall withstand him; and a three-fold cord is not quickly broken.
13. Better is a youth who is poor and wise than a king who is old and foolish, and does not know how to receive admonition.
14. Out of prison he has come to reign, because also in his own kingdom he had been born miserable.
15. I considered all the living who walk under the sun, with the young men, who shall rise up in their place.
16. There is no end of all the people, even of all who have been before them; and those also who come after shall not rejoice in them. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.

Chapter 5
1. Let your conduct be seemly when you go to the house of God; and to draw near to hear is better than the gift offerings of fools; for they know not to do that which is good.
2. Be not rash with your mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to utter a word before God; for God is in heaven, and you upon earth; therefore let your words be few.
3. For a dream comes because of the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by a multitude of words.
4. When you vow a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it; for he has no pleasure in fools; but as for you, pay that which you have vowed.
5. It is much better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not fulfill it.
6. Suffer not your mouth to cause your flesh to sin; neither say before God that it was an error, lest God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands.
7. For in the multitude of dreams and vain things and many words is false worship; but you should worship God.
8. If you see the oppression of the poor and violent perversion of judgment and justice in a city, do not marvel at the matter; for he who is higher than the highest is watching; and he who is higher is over them.
9. Moreover the riches of the earth are for all; the kind, himself, is served by cultivating his own field.
10. He who loves money shall not be satisfied with money; and he who loves wealth shall not retain it. This is also vanity.
11. When goods increase, they also are increased who eat them; and what profit is there to their owners, except the beholding of them with their eyes?
12. Sweet is the sleep of a laboring man, whether he eat little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not let him sleep.
13. There is also another grievous evil which I have seen under the sun, riches kept by the owner thereof to his own hurt.
14. And those riches are lost in a bad venture; for when he begets a son, there is nothing in his hand.
15. As he came forth from his mother's womb, naked shall he return to the earth to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labor, which he may carry away in his hand.
16. And this also is a grievous evil; for just as he came, so shall he go; and what profit has he that has labored for the wind?
17. All his days also he eats in darkness, in much anger and wrath, in mourning and in sickness.
18. This is what I, the Preacher, have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and drink and to enjoy the good of all his labor for which he toils under the sun all the days of his life, which the Lord has given him; for this is his portion.
19. To every man also the Lord has given riches and wealth, and has given power to eat thereof and to take his portion and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.
20. For he shall remember no more the days of his life; because God will keep him busy with the joy of his heart.

Chapter 6
1. There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men;
2. There is a man to whom God has given riches, wealth, and honor, so that he lacks nothing for his soul of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to eat of them; but a stranger eats it. This is vanity, and it is an evil disease.
3. If a man beget a hundred children and live a multitude of years so that the days of his years are many, and his soul is not filled with good things, and also that he have no burial, I say that an untimely birth is better than he.
4. For he comes in with vanity, and shall go into darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness.
5. Moreover he has not seen the sun, nor known anything, yet this one has more rest than the other.
6. Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet he has seen no good; do not all go to one place?
7. All the labor of a man is for his mouth, and yet his appetite is not filled.
8. The wise man has an advantage over the fool. What! Does the poor man know how to go through life?
9. Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire; this is also vanity and vexation of spirit.
10. That which has been before has already been named, and the nature of man is known, and he cannot contend in judgment with him that is stronger than himself.
11. Seeing there are many things that increase vanity, what advantage has man?
12. For who knows what is good for man in his life, all the days of his vain life which he spends like a shadow? For who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?

Chapter 7
1. A good name is better than a precious ointment; and the day of one's death than the day of his birth.
2. It is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting; for this is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.
3. Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
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 better or a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.
6. For as the crackling of thorns burning under a pot, so is the laughter of fools; this is also vanity.
7. Surely slander destroys a wise man; and a bribe destroys the heart.
8. Better is the end of a thing than it's beginning; and the patient man in humbleness is better than the proud in spirit.
9. Be not hastily angry, for anger rests in the bosom of the fools.
10. Say not, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? For you do not enquire wisely concerning this.
11. Wisdom is better than weapons; yea, it is better for those who see the light of the truth.
12. For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money; and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to him who possesses it.
13. Consider the work of God; for who can straighten him who is crooked?
14. In the day of prosperity he joyful, but look after yourself in the day of adversity. God also has made one thing opposite to another, to the end that man should know nothing after he is gone.
15. All things have I seen in the days of my vanity; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness.
16. Be not overrighteous; neither make yourself overwise; lest you should become stupid.
17. Be not excessively wicked, less you be hated much; neither be foolish, lest you die before your time.
18. It is good that you should take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not your hand; for he who reverences God shall follow all those things.
19. Wisdom strengthens the wise more than ten princes that are in the city.
20. For there is no just man upon the earth; that does good, and sins not.
21. Also take no heed of all words that are spoken by the wicked; neither listen to your servant when he curses you;
22. For your heart knows that you yourself have oftentimes cursed others.
23. I have tried all these things by wisdom; I said, I will be wise; but wisdom was far from me.
24. Yea, wisdom was far off; it also had depth beyond depth; who can find it out?
25. I went around and applied my heart to know and to visit and to search for wisdom and reason and to know the wickedness of the fool, even folly and transgression.
26. And I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands bind him who is good; he who is good in the presence of God shall escape from her; but he who sins shall be caught by her.
27. Behold, I have found this, says the Preacher, weighing one thing against another to find out the purposes.
28. And again my soul sought but I found not; one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all these I have not found.
29. But behold, this thing I have found, that God has made men upright; but they have sought out many devices.

Chapter 8
1. Who is like the wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man's wisdom makes his face to shine, but he who is impudent shall be hated.
2. Keep the king's command, and in regard of the oath of God be not hasty.
3. Go from his presence; and do not stand firm in an evil matter; for he does whatsoever pleases him.
4. In what manner the king speaks is lawful; and who can say to him What are you doing?
5. He who keeps a command shall know no evil thing; and a wise man's heart discerns both time and judgment.
6. Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, because the misery of man is great upon him.
7. For there is no one who knows that which has been; and who can tell him what will be after him?
8. There is no man who has power over the wind to withhold the wind; neither has he power over the day of death; and there is no escape from duty in the day of battle; neither shall wickedness deliver those who are given to it.
9. All this have I seen, and applied my heart to every work that is done under the sun; there is a time wherein one man rules over another to hurt him.
10. And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the holy place, and they were forgotten in the city where they had done such evil things; this also is vanity
11. Because vengeance against the evil-doers is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
12. He who sins does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with the worshippers of the Lord, that they may fear before him;
13. But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are like a shadow; because he does not fear before God.
14. There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; there are just men, to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked; and there are wicked men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous; I said that this also is vanity.
15. Then I commended mirth, because there is nothing better for a man under the sun than to eat and to drink and to be merry; for that shall accompany him in his labor all the days of his life, which God gives him under the sun.
16. Therefore I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business which is done upon the earth; for there are those whose eyes see no sleep either day or night.
17. Then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work which is done under the sun; all that a man may labor to seek out, yet he will not find it; and whosoever says that he is wise yet will not be able to find it.

Chapter 9

1. For all the essence of these things have I considered in my heart, and my heart perceived all of this, that the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God; no man knows either love or hatred; for everything which is before him is vanity.
2. All things happen alike to all; there is one chance for the righteous and for the wicked; to the good and to the bad, to the clean and to the unclean; to him who sacrifices and to him who does not sacrifice; as is the good man, so is the sinner; and he who swears is as he who fears and oath.
3. This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, for there is one chance to all; yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and grievous effort is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
4. For him who is joined with all the living there is hope; for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
5. For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
6. Also their love and their hatred and their envy have already perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun.
7. Come now, eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God is pleased with your works.
8. Let your garments be always white (White is the symbol of purity and holiness.) and let your head lack no ointment.
9. Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life, because she is your portion in life, and in your labor which you labor under the sun.
10. Whatsoever your hand is able to do, do it with your might; for there is no work nor device nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol whither you are going.
11. I turned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong nor bread to the wise nor riches to the men of understanding nor glory to the learned men; because time and chance happen to them all.
12. For man knows not his time; but as fish that are taken in a treacherous net and as birds that are caught in the snares, so are the sons of men snared in an evil time when it falls suddenly upon them.
13. This wisdom I have seen also under the sun, and it seemed great to me;
14. There was a little city and few men in it; and there came a great king against it and besieged I and built bulwarks against it;
15. Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.
16. Then said I, Wisdom is better than might; nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised and his words are not heeded.
17. The words of the wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of a ruler who is a fool.
18. Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sin destroys much good.

Chapter 10
1 Like dead flies which make the container of precious ointment stink, so does a great folly outweigh wisdom and honor.
2 A wise man's heart thinks rightly; but a fool's heart thinks wrongly.
3 Yea also, when the fool walks by the way, he lacks wisdom, and whatever he reasons is folly.
4 If the temper of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your country; because healing forgives many sins.
5 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, like an error which proceeds from before a ruler.
6 The fool is set in high and powerful places, and the rich shall sit in a low place.
7 I have seen servants riding upon horses, and princes walking like servants on the ground.
8 He who digs a pit shall fall into it; and he who breaks a hedge will be bitten by a serpent.
9 He who removes landmarks shall suffer pain by them; and he who cuts trees shall be wounded by them.
10 Just as the edge of a weapon may be blunt, and not sharpened, and yet may cause many to be slain, so wisdom is more advantageous to those who are diligent.
11 If the serpent bites without being charmed; then in vain is a charmer.
12 The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will ruin him.
13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness; and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.
14 A fool multiplies words; a man cannot tell what has been; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?
15 The labor of fools wears them out because they do not know how to buy and sell in the city.
16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes eat in the morning!
17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of a noble and your princes eat in due time, for strength and not for drunkenness!
18 By slothfulness a roof shall be brought down; and through idleness of hands water drips through.
19 Bread and wine are made for joy, and oil makes life merry; but money brings one low and causes him to go astray in all things.
20 Do not curse the king, no not even in your thought; and do not curse the rich in your bedchamber; for a bird of the air shall carry your voice, and that which has wings shall tell the matter.

Chapter 11
1. Cast your bread upon the waters; for you shall find it after many days.
2. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for you know not what misfortune shall come upon the earth.
3. If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth; and if a tree fall toward the south or toward the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it shall be.
4. He who observes the wind shall not sow; and he who regards the clouds shall not reap.
5. As you do not know the path of the wind, and the manner of a woman who is with child; even so you do not know the works of the Lord who makes all.
6. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening withhold not your hands; for you know not which shall prosper; either this or that, or whether they both alike shall be good.
7. Truly light is sweet, and it is a pleasant thing for the eyes; but much more to those who see the sun.
8. If a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that comes is vanity.
9. Rejoice, O young man, in your youth; and it shall be well with you; and walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these things the Lord will bring you into judgment.
10. Therefore remove anger from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh; for youth and ignorance are vanity.

Chapter 12
1. Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw nigh when you shall say, I have no pleasure in them;
2. Before life ebbs, beauty fades, fortune fails, and poverty returns after prosperity;
3. In the day when the legs tremble and the arms weaken, and the teeth chew no more because they are few, and the eyes are dimmed.
4. And the ears shall be so dulled that the sound of women grinding at the mill is low, and a man shall rise up at the song of birds; and the sound of women singing shall be low;
5. He shall be afraid of that which is high, and shall tremble in his ways and sleeplessness shall come upon him; and almond tree shall blossom, and the locust shall be multiplied and fragrance shall scatter, and trouble shall cease; because man goes to the house of his reward and the mourners walk about the street.
6. Remember him before the silver cord is cut off and the golden bowl is broken and the pitcher is broken at the fountain or the wheel is broken at the cistern.
7. Then the dust shall return to the earth as it was; and the spirit hall return to God who gave it.
8. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, all is vanity.
9. And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed and sought out and composed many proverbs.
10. The Preacher sought to find agreeable words; and he wrote uprightly the words of truth.
11. The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails deeply fastened, which are arranged by workmen and given from one master builder.
12. Furthermore, my son, take heed; of writing many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
13. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter; Fear the Lord and keep his commandments; this is given by one Master to every man.
14. For the Lord shall bring every work into judgment, concerning everything which is hidden and known, whether it be good or whether it be evil.
*Sun is often used symbolically meaning the truth. Light is symbolical of enlightenment and understanding. God is often spoken of as sun.

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