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All Is Vanity

These are the words of the Preacher, the son of David and king in Jerusalem.

“Vanity[a] of vanities,”
    says the Preacher;
“vanity of vanities,
    all is vanity.”

What benefit is there to a man in all his labors
    that he toils under the sun?
A generation comes, and a generation goes,
    but the earth continually remains.
The sun comes up, and the sun goes down,
    and hurries to the place where it rises.
It moves to the south,
    and then moves around to the north;
the wind continually travels around,
    and it keeps turning on its circuit.
All the streams flow into the sea,
    and the sea is never filled up.
And to the place where the streams flow,
    there they continually return to flow.
All matters are wearisome;
    a man is not able to speak to them.
The eye is not satisfied with what it sees,
    and the ear is not content with what it hears.
What has been is the same as what will be,
    and what has been done is the same as what will be done;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a matter where it is said,
    “See, this is truly new”?
Long ago in the past
    every matter has already been in our midst.
11 There is not a memory for the former things,
    and moreover, there will not be
a memory for the things coming after,
    even those things that are yet to come.

The Burden of Wisdom

12 I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I set my heart to seek and to investigate with wisdom everything that is done under heaven. It is a burdensome task that God has given to the sons of men, by which they may be occupied. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and indeed, all is vanity and like chasing the wind.

15 What is bent cannot be straightened,
    and what is missing cannot be counted.

16 I spoke in my heart, saying, “I have been great and increased in wisdom more than anyone else who has been before me in Jerusalem, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know the folly of ideas and to know foolish behavior, and I know that this as well is like chasing the wind.

18 For in an abundance of wisdom is an abundance of frustration,
    and he who increases in knowledge also increases in sorrow.


  1. Ecclesiastes 1:2 Heb. suggests something futile, temporal, or obscure.