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These are the words of the Teacher. He is a son of David, king in Jerusalem.

The Teacher says,
    “Useless! Useless!
Completely useless!
    All things are useless.”

What do people really gain
    from all the hard work they do here on earth?

Things Never Change

People live, and people die.
    But the earth continues forever.
The sun rises, and the sun sets.
    Then it hurries back to the place where it rises again.
The wind blows to the south.
    Then it blows to the north.
It blows from one direction and then another.
    Then it turns around and repeats the same pattern, going nowhere.
All the rivers flow to the sea.
    But the sea never becomes full.
Everything is boring.
    It makes you so tired you don’t even want to talk about it.
Words come again and again to our ears.
    But we never can hear enough.
    Nor can we ever really see all we want to see.
All things continue the way they have been since the beginning.
    The same things will be done that have always been done.
    There is nothing new here on earth.
10 A person might say,
    “Look, this is new!”
But really it has always been here.
    It was here before we were!
11 People don’t remember what happened long ago.
    In the future, people will not remember what happens now.
    And later, other people will not remember what was done before them.

Does Wisdom Bring Happiness?

12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I decided to use my wisdom. I wanted to learn about everything that happens here on earth. I learned that God has given us terrible things to face here on earth. 14 I looked at everything done here on earth. I saw that it is all a waste of time. It is like chasing the wind.

15 If something is crooked,
    you can’t make it straight.
If something is missing,
    you can’t say it is there.

16 I said to myself, “I have become very wise. I am now wiser than anyone who ruled Jerusalem before me. I know what wisdom and knowledge really are.” 17 So I decided to find out how wisdom and knowledge are better than foolish thinking. But I learned that trying to become wise is also like chasing the wind.

18 With much wisdom comes much disappointment.
    The person who gains more knowledge also gains more sorrow.

Everything Is Meaningless

The words of the Teacher,[a](A) son of David, king in Jerusalem:(B)

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”(C)

What do people gain from all their labors
    at which they toil under the sun?(D)
Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.(E)
The sun rises and the sun sets,
    and hurries back to where it rises.(F)
The wind blows to the south
    and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
    ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
    yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
    there they return again.(G)
All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,(H)
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;(I)
    there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,(J)
    and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.(K)

Wisdom Is Meaningless

12 I, the Teacher,(L) was king over Israel in Jerusalem.(M) 13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens.(N) What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind!(O) 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.(P)

15 What is crooked cannot be straightened;(Q)
    what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me;(R) I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom,(S) and also of madness and folly,(T) but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.

18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;(U)
    the more knowledge, the more grief.(V)


  1. Ecclesiastes 1:1 Or the leader of the assembly; also in verses 2 and 12

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