1These are the words of the Teacher. He was the son of David. He was also king in Jerusalem.2“Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Everything is completely meaningless! Nothing has any meaning.”3What does a man get for all of his work? Why does he work so hard on this earth?4People come and people go. But the earth remains forever.5The sun rises. Then it sets. And then it hurries back to where it rises.6The wind blows to the south. Then it turns to the north. Around and around it goes. It always returns to where it started.7Every stream flows into the ocean. But the ocean never gets full. The streams return to the place they came from.8All things are tiresome. They are more tiresome than anyone can say. But our eyes never see enough of anything. Our ears never hear enough.9Everything that has ever been will come back again. Everything that has ever been done will be done again. Nothing is new on earth.10There isn't anything about which someone can say, “Look! Here's something new.” It was already here long ago. It was here before we were.11No one remembers the men of long ago. Even those who haven't been born yet won't be remembered by those who will be born after them.
Wisdom Doesn't Have Any Meaning
12I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.13I spent all of my time studying. I used my wisdom to check everything out. I looked into everything that is done on earth. What a heavy load God has put on men!14I've seen what is done on this earth. It doesn't have any meaning. It's like chasing the wind.15People can't straighten things that are twisted. They can't count things that don't even exist.16I said to myself, “Look, my wisdom has really been growing. In fact, I'm now wiser than anyone who ruled over Jerusalem in the past. I have a lot of wisdom and knowledge.”17Then I used my mind to understand what it really means to be wise. And I wanted to know what foolish pleasure is all about. But I found out that that's also like chasing the wind.18A lot of human wisdom leads to a lot of sorrow. More knowledge only brings more sadness.
English Standard Version
All Is Vanity
1The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. (Ec 1:12; Ec 7:27; Ec 12:8)2Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. (Ec 1:1; Ec 12:8; Ro 8:20)3What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? (Job 7:16; Ps 39:5; Ps 144:4; Ec 1:14; Ec 2:11; Ec 2:22; Ec 3:9; Ec 5:16)4A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. (Ps 104:5; Ps 119:90)5The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. (Ps 19:4)6The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. (Ec 11:5; Joh 3:8)7All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. (Ps 104:8)8All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. (Pr 27:20; Ec 4:8)9What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. (Ec 2:12; Ec 3:15; Ec 6:10)10Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. (Ec 3:15)11There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after. (Ec 2:16; Ec 9:5)
The Vanity of Wisdom
12I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. (Ec 1:1)13And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. (Ge 3:19; 1Ki 4:33; Ec 1:17; Ec 2:23; Ec 2:26; Ec 3:10)14I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. (Ec 1:2; Ec 2:11; Ec 2:17; Ec 2:26; Ec 4:4; Ec 6:9)15What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted. (Ec 7:13)16I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” (1Ki 3:12; 1Ki 4:30; 1Ki 10:7; 1Ki 10:23; Ec 2:9)17And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind. (Ec 1:13; Ec 1:14; Ec 2:3; Ec 2:12; Ec 7:23; Ec 7:25; Ec 9:3)18For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. (Ec 12:12)