Ecclesiastes

From the Greek Septuagint text as was used by First Century Christians
A poem or song written by Solomon about 1000-BCE.

Chapter 1

1 These are the sayings of the great congregator, the son of David, the king of IsraEl in JeruSalem.

2 'All is foolishness and waste,' said he, the great congregator. 'Foolishness and waste… all that's done is in vain. 3 What value does man gain from the things he has done, and the things he's worked hard for under the sun?'

4 One generation passes away, and then another arrives, but the earth remains through the ages. 5 For the sun keeps rising and setting, as it draws to it's place, 6 and the winds blow in from the south, as they move to the north in a circle… then they go back and come 'round again. 7 Though all the rivers flow to the sea, the sea does not become filled. For, to the places from which they all came, they return and flow back again. 8 So, no man can speak all the words he might say, nor are his eyes filled with all he can see, and his ears can't be filled with all he can hear.

9 What is this thing that [just] happened? The same thing will happen again! What is this thing being done? The same thing will be done in the future! For there's nothing that's new under the sun.

10 Who can say, 'Look, here's something new!' For the same thing has happened for ages, to those who have lived before us. 11 But the things that they did were forgotten, and those who are born in the future, won't remember the things that we're doing now.

12 The great congregator is the king, over all of IsraEl from JeruSalem. 13 So I set my heart to survey and inquire, about all that has happened under the sky. God gave me this to distract me from bad, and to lead sons of men back to Him.

14 I've seen all that's done under the sun, and I find it to be a waste of [good] breath. 15 For, things that go wrong are never made right, and there's too much wrong to be counted.

16 Once I spoke in my heart and I said: 'Look how great I've become! For, I've been given more wisdom, than all who've lived [here] before me! So I set my heart to learn wisdom and knowledge; 17 and wisdom and knowledge, my heart beheld, as well as higher learning and proverbs. It became the resolve of my spirit, 18 to gain an abundance of wisdom, along with volumes of knowledge. But, those who gain knowledge also gain pain.

Chapter 2

1 I said to my heart, 'Well come now; I'll [fill] you with joy and then you'll know good!' But, even that was just folly.

2 To laughter, I said, 'You're a burden!' And to joy, I asked, 'What have you achieved?'

3 So I thought in my heart, 'I'll drink wine for my flesh!' But my heart then led me toward wisdom.

Next, I decided to hold onto joy, until I could see just what kind of good, 4 there is to be found among sons of men, and what they can do in their short days of life. 4 So thereafter, I went into action; I planted vineyards and built many homes. 5 I made myself gardens and parks, which I planted with all sorts of fruit. 6 Around them, I dug ponds and lakes, to water the groves filled with trees. 7 I acquired many slaves (both women and men), and many native servants were born.

I also acquired great herds and flocks… more than all who had come before me. 8 I collected much silver and gold for myself… the possessions of kings and estates. I prepared for myself many singers… men and women were brought to amuse me. I had men and women who just served me wine; 9 then I became great as my wisdom increased (more than all who had come before me); and indeed, my wisdom was proven.

10 Everything that I could ask for, was there in front of my eyes, and no joy was withheld from my heart. But though these efforts of my heart made me happy; this was the sum of what I'd achieved. 11 For, when I looked at all I had done, and the things that I'd made with my hands… when I considered the effort it took, I saw that it was all just folly. Since, no matter what our spirits may choose to do; it brings no advantage under the sun.

12 Thereafter, I examined my wisdom, and I saw that it too was just folly. For, who under the sun will follow my words… which man will do [what I've said]? Although the wise may have eyes in their heads, the fools will still travel in darkness. And I knew that both them and I, will eventually all meet together. 15 So I said in my heart, 'Since the fate of fools will also take me; what value is there in my wisdom?'

And I also said this in my heart: 'The things that I've said about being a fool, are also just [wasted breath]; 16 for, both the wise the fools are forgotten, and what they do will not be remembered. So, how are the wise any better than fools?'

17 Then, I became disgusted with life; for, all that I've done under the sun, will eventually end up as bad… it is all foolish and a waste [of good] breath.18 I became disgusted with all of the things, which I had accomplished under the sun… for I'll leave it to the one who comes next… 19 and who knows if he's wise or another poor fool… who knows if he'll care for the things I have made, or for the things I've discerned under the sun? So, all of this is just folly!

20 Thus I turned to dismiss from my heart, all the results of my efforts, and all that I'd made under the sun.

21 There's a man who worked hard to gain wisdom, as well as knowledge and courage. But there's also a man who made no such effort, and he will receive the same fate. So, this is a great wicked folly.

22 What happens to a man and his efforts, and the resolve of his heart under the sun? 23 During all of his days there is pain, and rage over things that are being destroyed; thus, during the night, his heart knows no rest. So indeed, this too is just folly.

24 Nothing worthwhile comes to a man, but eating, drinking, and searching for good… and all these things come from God's hand; 25 for without Him, who's able to eat or to drink? 26 Then to those whom He declares to be good, He gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy… but, from the sinners, He rips it away! So they're given to those whom He deems to be good, and who stand before the face of [our] God. Yet, this is also just folly, and just a waste of [good] breath.

Chapter 3

1 For all that's under the sky,
There is a season and time…
2 There are times to give birth and times that bring death;
There are times to plant and to harvest;
3 There are times to destroy and do healing;
There are times to build and times to tear down;
4 There are times to laugh and to cry;
There are times for mourning and dancing;
5 There are times to throw stones and times to collect them;
There are times to hug and to push away;
6 There are times to lose and to find;
There are times to collect and discard;
7 There are times to plant and times to rip out;
There are times to speak and be quiet;
8 There are times to love and times to show hate;
There are times for peace and for war…
9 So, what can your efforts accomplish?

10 I've seen the amusements God's given, to the sons of men to distract them. 11 All that God's made is good in its time. And though He's put the ages into our hearts, no man knows all that we've done, from the most ancient times to the present. 13 So, when a man has it all… all that he needs to eat and to drink, he'll find that his ways have been blest, and he'll know that these gifts come from God.

14 All that God's done will last through the ages; so, to such things, you can add nothing more, nor can you take it away. For, all that God has accomplished, was done so we'd live before Him in fear. 15 And all that is, has already been… yes, it's all happened before, and God searches to see what we've chosen.

16 I've also noticed that under the sun, there's a place where the godless are judged, and a place where He judges the righteous. 17 So, in my heart I've concluded, that both the unrighteous and just will be judged. Yes, there is a season for all, and for every action there is a right time.

18 I said in my heart what sons of men say… that God views us as though we are cattle. 19 For man's outcome is the same as it is for his herds… as this one dies, so dies the other, since we all share the very same breath. So, how are men better than cattle? They aren't… and it is all just a joke! 20 For we all return to the very same place… we come from the dust and go back to the dust. 21 Who knows if man's breath goes upward, or that the breath of his cattle goes down to the ground?

22 In all of this, I saw [little] that's good, except to find joy in the things that we do… yes, this is all we've been given. For, who will lead us to see, the things that will happen after [we're gone]?

Chapter 4

1 I've turned and I've seen everything… the extortions and other such things, which happen under the sun. I've seen power in the hands of extorters, and I've seen the tears of the swindled… and that no one came to offer them comfort.

2 I've also praised the things of the dead; for, more have died than have lived. 3 And the best of these two is the one not yet born… the one who has not seen the evil, in what will be done under the sun. 4 I beheld all their efforts and acts of great courage… men's rivalries with their companions. And I see that it all is just foolish, and a huge waste of [good] breath.

5 The fool folds his hands… then he eats his own flesh. 6 But it's better to enjoy a handful in peace, than to have twice as much in distress; for, this is also a waste of good breath.

7 I turned and noticed man's foolish ways… all that he's done under the sun. 8 There are those who have lived all alone, and who have had no dependents. But, though they have no brothers or sons, they deprive their lives of things that are good. And indeed, this too is just folly… it's just a distraction from evil.

9 Two are better than living alone, for the efforts of two return a good wage… 10 if he stumbles, his partner will lift him. But, woe to the one who stumbles and falls, and has no partner to raise him.

11 When two share a bed, they'll be warm… but can just one keep himself warm? 12 And a person alone can be beaten, while two make a better defense… and a three-cord rope is harder to break.

13 It's better to be a poor but wise child, than a king who is foolish and old… one who no longer listens [to council]. 14 For he reigns within his own prison, and in his own kingdom, has nothing.

15 I've looked upon all of the living (all who are walking under the sun), and I see the next generation, who will become their replacements. 16 There's no limit to all of the people, or to those who have come before. And since the last take no joy in the first; this too is foolish and a waste of good breath.

Chapter 5

1 Watch your feet as you enter God's House (whenever you go there to listen), and bring an offering that is better, than the rest of the gifts of the foolish, who are unaware of the bad that can come.

2 Don't let your mouths speak too quickly, or let your hearts be too hasty, when making [a vow] in the presence of God. For, God is up in the heavens, and you are here on the earth; so, let your words remain few.

3 As many [concerns] bring [bad] dreams; many words are heard from the voices of fools. 4 So, when you make a vow to [your] God, don't waste any time to repay it, since He doesn't like vows that are foolishly made. So whatever you vow, you should bring! 5 And it's best that you don't make a vow, than to vow and fail to pay it!

6 Don't let your mouth lead your flesh into sin, and don't say too much in the presence of God. [Do not say] stupid things, and don't make Him angry with your words, for He'll bring destruction to the works of your hands. 7 So, though you may have many daydreams and follies, fear to say many words, whenever you stand before God.

8 If you see the needy extorted and robbed, by lawsuits or other legal actions; don't give this too much attention. For, from above, the High One keeps watch… He sees all that happens under [the skies].

9 And though the bounty of the land is for all, even a king needs his fields to be worked. 10 But for those who love silver, there's never enough, and with plenty comes even more young… and indeed, this too is just folly. 11 For, when you have many good things, there will also be many to eat it. So what value is there in getting much more, when it's just to be seen by your eyes?

12 Sleep is always sweet to a slave, whether he has little or much… but the rich never get enough sleep.

13 I've seen all this illness under the sun… for there are those who store up much treasure, 14 which is thereafter lost in hard times. So, wealth is just a distraction from bad.

When a man fathers a son, the child arrives here with nothing at all. 15 Naked he arrives from his mother's womb, and when he goes, he leaves the same way… with nothing to show for his efforts, and nothing to carry back in his hands. 16 Indeed, this is illness that's evil; for as he arrives is how he returns. And what advantage has he gained from his efforts, when they're [blown away] in the wind?

17 In darkness and mourning, man fills his days… in anger, illness, and rage. 18 Yet, I've seen good in the things that we eat and drink, and I've seen good come from man's efforts, in the things he's accomplished under the sun, and in the portion of life that God has allowed. 19 For, those who gain wealth and possessions from God, are allowed to own them and eat them; thus, they reap the joy of their efforts… and these are [the true] gifts from God! 20 So, though they'll forget most days of their lives, God amused them with joy in their hearts.

Chapter 6

1 There is something bad that I have beheld, which is common to all under the sun. 2 It's when God gives wealth, possessions, and glory, and a man lacks nothing that his soul desires… then he's not allowed the time to [enjoy] it, and it's thereafter given to strangers. Yes, this is a sickness and folly.

3 If a man should live to a hundred (no matter how long the days of his years), and his life has never known good things; before he's buried, I'd say: 'It would be better if he'd been miscarried.' 4 For, from darkness he came and in darkness he left, and in darkness his name will be covered. 5 Indeed, he knew not the sun, and none would know him from others. 6 And if he came back and lived thousands [of years], but he still never saw any good; wouldn't things be just the same?

7 So, all men can do is just fill their mouths, since their lives are never fulfilled. 8 And what advantage have the wise over fools? For, only the poor put [getting by] first.

9 It's better to have a dream in your eyes, than to see what will really happen in life; so all of that is just folly… it's a waste of good breath.

10 Whenever something new comes along, it has already been named [in the past]. And though a man may know his own [strength], he can't know when someone is stronger.

11 There's so much that makes foolishness grow, 12 and what does this mean for a man? Who knows what will be the best in his life, or how many of his days will be foolish? For his life is much like a shadow, and who can report to a man, what under the sun will come after him.

Chapter 7

1 A good name is better than oil. And the day that you die is much better, than the day you were born.

2 So it's better to go to a funeral, than to spend time at a banquet; for that is the end of all men, and it's good for all who are living, to take such good warnings to heart.

3 Indignant rage is better than laughter; for a face that's been hurt creates a good heart. 4 So the hearts of the wise are at funerals, while the hearts of fools [search for] pleasure.

5 It's better to hear the wise scold you, than to hear the [praises] of fools.

6 As the [crackling] of tinder under the pot, is the sound of the laughter of fools; for this is also just folly.

7 Extortion will drive the wise crazy; for it destroys their heart's greatest plans.

8 The way that a matter turns out, is better than when it began.

It's better [for a man] to forgive, than to have a high-minded spirit.

9 Don't get angry too quickly; for rage rests in the bosoms of fools.

10 Don't ask why past days were better; for in asking such things, there's no wisdom.

11 Wisdom brings plenty of good, to those who can still see the sun; 12 for, in its shadow is wisdom, as well as the shadow of silver.

The advantage of those who know wisdom, is that it gives life to those who can find it.

13 Behold the actions of God; for, who can add to whatever He brings?

14 Enjoy the good life during good days, for you know that bad days will come!

{Look!} Harmonious words, God sent through this man, so people will need nothing more!

15 I've seen it all in my foolish days; I've seen the righteous unjustly destroyed, and the irreverent allowed to keep doing bad.

16 Don't become super righteous or too discerning, so you'll not be overwhelmed by it all. 17 Nor should you become disrespectful, lest you harden and die before it's your time.

18 It's best to hang onto whatever is good, and not to dirty your hands; for, everything comes to those who fear God.

19 Wisdom has much greater power, than ten mighty men in a city.

20 There's no man on the earth who is righteous… there are none who are good and free from all sins.

21 Don't keep all things that are said in your heart, and don't notice when you're cursed by your servants. 22 For against you, they'll say wicked things, and often they'll hurt you at heart… just as you've often cursed others.

23 All these things, I have tested as wisdom. But though I may say that I understand, it has really stayed too far from my grasp… 24 it's too high above me and too deep below; so, who is able to find it? 25 To understand, I've searched my heart through; I've looked it all over and sought what is wise; I have reasoned and seen how the godless are fools, and of how they're misled to do wrong.

26 I find her more bitter than death… the woman with snares and nets in her heart, and who creates slaves with her hands. Only those who are found to be good before God, will be delivered from her, while those who sin will be captured.

27 'Look! This is what I have found,' says the great congregator. 'I've counted and carefully searched, 28 seeking with my whole soul… but I was unable to find, a man in a thousand who's [righteous], and none at all among women! 29 Yet, this is the one thing I've found: God deals with the man who is upright, and He searches for ways to reward him.'

But, who knows who truly is wise, and who comprehends the meanings of proverbs?

Chapter 8

1 Wisdom makes faces brighter, but impudent faces are hated.

2 Watch the mouth of a king, because of the oath that God gave! 3 Don't depart from his face in a hurry, and don't go to him for wrong reasons. For he'll do whatever he pleases; 4 and who can ask of the king: 'Why did you make [that decision]?'

5 Those who keep the Commandments don't think about bad; and wise hearts discern right times and right ways.

6 There's a time and a ruling for all; for the knowledge of men ranges widely. 7 And since no one really knows what will happen, who can tell him the future?

8 No man controls [his own] spirit, nor is he able to keep it in check. None can avoid the day of their deaths, and none can avoid days of war… nor can the irreverent avoid what they're due.

9 I have now seen it all… I've given my heart to all that's under sun. And all that a man is able to do, is just bring bad on himself.

10 I've seen the irreverent carried to tombs, from a place that is Holy. And they were praised in the city, for all the things they had done… and this is also just folly.

11 When no one opposes the wicked, men's hearts feel safe in turning toward bad, 12 and those who are guilty of sins, will just go on living their lives.

I know that good comes to those who fear God, and before Him, we should all be in fear. 13 But, good doesn't come to the godless, and they will not lengthen their days. They are just shadows [that pass], since they've shown no fear before God.

14 There is even more folly that's done on the earth… as when the righteous get what the guilty deserve, and the godless receive what the righteous deserve… yes, this is also just folly!

15 So, though I may sing their praises in joy, there's nothing good that happens to men, anywhere under the sun, other than eating, drinking, and pleasure… yes, that's all there is to man's efforts… it's what he's been given by God, as [his portion] under the sun.

16 So I turned my heart to learn wisdom, and to overlook what's done on the ground. For, both day and night, men sleep with [closed] eyes, so they cannot see all that happens.

17 Then I started to observe the actions of God, which men under the sun haven't noticed. For despite all the efforts they put in their search, they've been unable to find it. And though the wise speak of knowledge, they too are unable to find it. But because I gave my heart to discernment; these are the things that my heart came to see.

Chapter 9

1 The deeds of the righteous and wise, are in the hands of our God. Yet with all of their loves and dislikes, man cannot comprehend it… 2 for, foolish are the ways of all men!

There are things that happen to the righteous, and things that happen to the godless… and to either can come good or bad. There are both the clean and unclean; there are those who will bring sacrifices, and those who will offer God nothing. Yet the same things [happen to] both… to the good as well as to sinners… to those who choose to swear oaths, and to those who fear to swear oaths. 3 In all of this, there is evil, in what is done under the sun… for the same things happen to both.

Indeed; the sons of men's hearts are filled what's bad, as well as madness throughout their lives… and then they go to the grave. 4 But, for the living, there is still hope, since a living dog is much greater, than a lion that's dead. 5 For the living know that they'll die, but the dead know nothing at all, nor do they have a reward, since the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Their loves and dislikes are both gone, and their zeal has already perished. Then, through the age they'll not be involved, in whatever is done under the sun.

7 So, eat your bread in contentment, and drink to your heart with fine wines… and God will think well of your actions. 8 May your clothes always be white, and may there be plenty of oil for your head. 9 Share what you have with the woman you've loved, all the days of your wasted life. For this is all you'll get under the sun, since the days of your life are a folly… this is the sum of your life, for all of your efforts under the sun.

10 So, whatever your hands find to do, do it with all of your power! For there's no doing, thinking, wisdom, or knowledge, in the place of the dead where you're going.

11 I turned and I saw that under the sun, the race isn't won by those fleet of foot, nor are battles all won by the mighty. The wise aren't always those who eat bread; the discerning aren't always the rich; nor are those with knowledge shown favor. Yet, there's a time and a meeting for all, 12 and no one knows when this time will arrive. As fish being caught in a net, and as birds being trapped in a snare; the sons of men are caught swiftly, in a bad time that quickly arrives.

13 I've beheld all this wisdom under sun, and it rests heavily upon me.

14 If a city is small with just a few men, and a mighty king comes to attack it, building high siege mounds around it; 15 and if a wise man who's poor can be found there, whose wisdom results in saving that town; all will forget that he had been poor. 16 So, this is what I can tell you: 'Wisdom is better than power.' But the wisdom of the poor is treated with contempt, and none pay attention to their words. 17 Yet, the words of the wise who have nothing, should be heeded over words of the foolish, who may have been given the power, 18 since wisdom is better than weapons of war, and a single error can destroy all the good.

Chapter 10

1 As a dead fly can spoil a good ointment; a little folly can conquer great wisdom.

2 The hearts of the wise are at their right hands, but the hearts of fools stay on their left. 3 So whichever way fools choose to go; in their hearts, they're sure that they'll fail, since they think that they cannot succeed.

4 If the spirit of a ruler flares against you, don't turn away from your place; for, [patience] will heal all great sins.

5 I've observed a wickedness under the sun: It's when a ruler does something in haste, 6 and puts a fool over something important, while those who've proven their worth are put low. 7 I've seen slaves who are riding on horses, and princes who are walking like slaves on the ground.

8 The one who is digging a cesspool, is also the one who'll fall in it; and those who move boundary markers, will find themselves bitten by snakes.

9 Quarry workers may be harmed by the rocks, and those who split logs are in danger.

10 If the axe isn't sharp, you'll work harder; so, doing what's wise paves the way for success.

11 If a charmer whispers and his serpent still bites; all his snake charming is worthless.

12 Words from a wise mouth bring favor; but foolish lips tear it back down. 13 And if foolish words are spoken at the start, they will end in what's wicked and crazy.

14 Since the fool often speaks many words, though he doesn't really know what will happen, or what will soon come to be; who'll walk behind and announce him?

15 The efforts of fools bring them trouble… for they don't know the right ways to enter a town.

16 Woe to you, O great city, where your king is just a young [man], and your princes eat meals in the mornings. 17 Blest is the land where the king's born of nobles, and whose princes eat at the right times. For, what they eat makes them strong, so they will never be shamed.

18 By sloth and neglect a home [falls apart], and with idle hands, [its roof] starts to leak.

19 Bread, wine, and oil are made to cause laughter, and to bring joy to the living… but they must also be [paid for].

20 Never curse a king in your mind, nor curse the rich in your bedrooms or closets; for your words will be carried by birds in the skies, and those with wings will report what you've said.

Chapter 11

1 Scatter your [seeds] on the water, and after some time, you will find them. 2 Share what you have with seven or eight, since you don't know what bad may come to the land. 3 If the clouds become filled, they'll send rain to the ground. And if a tree falls toward the north of the south, wherever it falls, it will stay.

4 Those who look to the wind may not plant, and those who look to the clouds may not reap; 5 for, attempting to know which way the wind blows, is like knowing the bones in the womb of a mother… you don't know the actions of God, or any of the things He will do. 6 So, start your planting in the morning, and don't stay your hand 'til the evening; for you never know what will grow over here, or what will grow over there… or if the two will grow well together.

7 Daylight is sweet and it's good for the eyes, to be able to see by the sun. 8 But, though a man's years may bring him much joy, he'll also know many dark days… and all that will come is just folly.

9 Take joy, young man, in your youth; and may your heart do good while you're young. May your heart walk in ways that are pure, not in the ways that you see with your eyes… for, know that this leads to God's judgment. 10 So, remove all the rage from your heart, and all the wicked ways from your flesh; for, youth's thoughtless ways are all folly!

Chapter 12

1 Remember your Creator in the days of your youth; for, bad days will come [all too soon], and the years will arrive when you'll say, 'I never wanted [to see] them!' 2 [It's a time when] the sun becomes dark, and you'll not see the light of the moon or the stars, or the clouds passing by after rain. 3 It's a day when the watchman starts to tremble… when the powerful man is bent over double, and the grinders cease because they are few. Then women will stare from their windows at darkness, 4 and they will lock all their doors, in fear of the sounds of those who grind in the market.

Then the sound of a sparrow will wake you; and the daughters of song will be humbled. 5 From above, you'll look down and see, frightening things on the road. Then, at the time when almonds should bloom, the locusts will grow to be many, and capers will drop on the ground… for, you'll have gone to your home of the ages.

Then people will circle the market, beating their chests in mourning for you. 6 For the silver cord has been severed; the gold decoration is broken; the bucket at the well has been shattered; and the wheel has rolled into the pit. 7 That which is dust went back to the ground, from which it once had been taken; and the breath has also returned, to the God who once gave it.

8 'Oh how silly and foolish,' says the great congregator. 9 Yet to him, there came even more wisdom, and he taught all his knowledge to men… he traced it all out and composed it as proverbs.

10 The great congregator searched for the words, and he wrote them as right ways of truth… 11 as words to the wise and as ox goads… as nails that are hammered in tight. They're agreeable things from a shepherd; 12 so, carefully guard them, my son!

Many scrolls have been written (yes, to them, there's no end), and spending much time thinking about them, is just a weariness to the flesh. 13 But listen, for this is what I've concluded: Fear God and keep His Commandments… this is all that there is for a man! 14 The rest just leads to judgment by God, who decides whether we have been good or bad.

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