The Futility of All Endeavors

The words of the (A)Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

(B)Futility of futilities,” says the Preacher,
“Futility of futilities! All is futility.”

(C)What advantage does a person have in all his work
Which he does under the sun?
A generation goes and a generation comes,
But the (D)earth [a]remains forever.
Also, (E)the sun rises and the sun sets;
And [b]hurrying to its place it rises there again.
[c](F)Blowing toward the south,
Then turning toward the north,
The wind continues [d]swirling along;
And on its circular courses the wind returns.
All the rivers [e]flow into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full.
To the place where the rivers [f]flow,
There they [g]flow again.
All things are wearisome;
No one can tell it.
(G)The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor is the ear filled with hearing.
(H)What has been, it is what will be,
And what has been done, it is what will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one might say,
“See this, it is new”?
It has already existed for ages
Which were before us.
11 There is (I)no remembrance of the [h]earlier things,
And of the later things as well, which will occur,
There will be no remembrance of them
Among those who will come later still.

The Futility of Wisdom

12 I, the (J)Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I (K)set my [i]mind to seek and (L)explore by wisdom about everything that has been done under heaven. It is a [j](M)sorry task with which God has given the sons of mankind to be troubled. 14 I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is (N)futility and striving after wind. 15 What is (O)crooked cannot be straightened, and what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I [k]said to myself, “Behold, I have magnified and increased (P)wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my [l]mind has observed [m]a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I (Q)applied my [n]mind to know wisdom and to (R)know insanity and foolishness; I realized that this also is (S)striving after wind. 18 Because (T)in much wisdom there is much grief; and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.


  1. Ecclesiastes 1:4 Lit stands
  2. Ecclesiastes 1:5 Lit panting
  3. Ecclesiastes 1:6 Lit Going
  4. Ecclesiastes 1:6 Lit turning
  5. Ecclesiastes 1:7 Lit go
  6. Ecclesiastes 1:7 Lit go
  7. Ecclesiastes 1:7 Lit go
  8. Ecclesiastes 1:11 Lit first; or former
  9. Ecclesiastes 1:13 Lit heart
  10. Ecclesiastes 1:13 Lit evil
  11. Ecclesiastes 1:16 Lit spoke with my heart, saying
  12. Ecclesiastes 1:16 Lit heart
  13. Ecclesiastes 1:16 Lit an abundance
  14. Ecclesiastes 1:17 Lit heart

The Futility of Pleasure and Possessions

I said [a]to myself, “Come now, I will test you with (A)pleasure. So [b]enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility. (B)I said of laughter, “It is senseless,” and of pleasure, “What does this accomplish?” I explored with my [c]mind how to (C)refresh my body with wine while my [d]mind was guiding me wisely; and how to seize (D)foolishness, until I could see (E)what good there is for the sons of mankind [e]to do under heaven for the few [f]years of their lives. I enlarged my works: I (F)built houses for myself, I planted (G)vineyards for myself; I made (H)gardens and (I)parks for myself, and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; I made (J)ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and I had [g](K)slaves born at home. I also possessed flocks and (L)herds larger than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. I also amassed for myself silver and (M)gold, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself (N)male and female singers, and the pleasures of the sons of mankind: many concubines.

Then I became (O)great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me. 10 (P)All that my eyes desired, I did not refuse them. I did not restrain my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor; and this was my (Q)reward for all my labor. 11 So I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had [h]exerted, and behold, all was (R)futility and striving after wind, and there was (S)no benefit under the sun.

Wisdom Surpasses Foolishness

12 So I turned to (T)consider wisdom, insanity, and foolishness; for what will the man do who will come after the king, except (U)what has already been done? 13 Then I saw that (V)wisdom surpasses foolishness as light surpasses darkness. 14 The wise person’s eyes are in his head, but the (W)fool walks in darkness. And yet I know that (X)one and the same fate happens to [i]both of them. 15 Then I said [j]to myself, “(Y)As is the fate of the fool, it will also happen to me. (Z)Why then have I been extremely wise?” So [k]I said to myself, “This too is futility.” 16 For there is (AA)no [l]lasting remembrance of the wise, along with the fool, since in the coming days everything will [m]soon be forgotten. And (AB)how the wise and the fool alike die! 17 So I (AC)hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was [n]unhappy to me; because everything is futility and striving after wind.

The Futility of Labor

18 So I hated (AD)all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, because I must (AE)leave it to the man who will come after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be wise or (AF)a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is (AG)futility. 20 Therefore I [o]completely despaired over all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun. 21 When there is a person who has labored with wisdom, knowledge, and (AH)skill, and then (AI)gives his [p]legacy to one who has not labored for it; this too is futility and a great evil. 22 For what does a person get in (AJ)all his labor and in [q]his striving with which he labors under the sun? 23 Because all his days his activity is painful and (AK)irritating; even at night his [r]mind (AL)does not rest. This too is futility.

24 There is (AM)nothing better for a person than to eat and drink, and show [s]himself some good in his trouble. This too I have seen, that it is (AN)from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without [t]Him? 26 For to a person who is good in His sight, (AO)He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may (AP)give to one who is good in God’s sight. This too is (AQ)futility and striving after wind.


  1. Ecclesiastes 2:1 Lit in my heart
  2. Ecclesiastes 2:1 Lit consider with goodness
  3. Ecclesiastes 2:3 Lit heart
  4. Ecclesiastes 2:3 Lit heart
  5. Ecclesiastes 2:3 Lit which they do
  6. Ecclesiastes 2:3 Lit days
  7. Ecclesiastes 2:7 Lit sons
  8. Ecclesiastes 2:11 Lit labored to do
  9. Ecclesiastes 2:14 Lit all of
  10. Ecclesiastes 2:15 Lit in my heart
  11. Ecclesiastes 2:15 Lit I spoke in my heart
  12. Ecclesiastes 2:16 Lit forever
  13. Ecclesiastes 2:16 Lit already
  14. Ecclesiastes 2:17 Lit evil
  15. Ecclesiastes 2:20 Lit turned aside my heart to despair
  16. Ecclesiastes 2:21 Lit share
  17. Ecclesiastes 2:22 Lit the striving of his heart
  18. Ecclesiastes 2:23 Lit heart
  19. Ecclesiastes 2:24 Lit his soul
  20. Ecclesiastes 2:25 As in LXX; Heb me

A Time for Everything

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a (A)time for every matter under heaven—

A time to give birth and a (B)time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A (C)time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to (D)weep and a time to (E)laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to (F)dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to (G)be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to (H)hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

(I)What benefit is there for the worker from that in which he labors? 10 I have seen the (J)task which God has given the sons of mankind with which to [a]occupy themselves.

God Set Eternity in the Heart of Mankind

11 He has (K)made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, without the possibility that mankind (L)will find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

12 I know that there is (M)nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; 13 moreover, that every person who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—this is the (N)gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it. And God has so worked, that people will [b](O)fear Him. 15 (P)That which is, is what has already been, and that which will be has already been; and God [c]seeks what has passed by.

16 Furthermore, I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is (Q)wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness. 17 I said [d]to myself, “(R)God will judge the righteous and the wicked,” for a (S)time for every matter and for every deed [e]is there. 18 I said [f]to myself regarding the sons of mankind, “God is testing them in order for them to see that they are as (T)animals, they to themselves.” 19 (U)For the fate of the sons of mankind and the fate of animals [g]is the same. As one dies, so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath, and there is no advantage for mankind over animals, for all is futility. 20 All go to the same place. All came from the (V)dust and all return to the dust. 21 Who knows that the (W)spirit of the sons of mankind ascends upward and the spirit of the animal descends downward to the earth? 22 I have seen that (X)nothing is better than when a person is happy in his activities, for that is his [h]lot. For who will bring him to see (Y)what will occur after him?


  1. Ecclesiastes 3:10 Or trouble
  2. Ecclesiastes 3:14 Or be in awe before Him
  3. Ecclesiastes 3:15 Or finds
  4. Ecclesiastes 3:17 Lit in my heart
  5. Ecclesiastes 3:17 I.e., exists with God
  6. Ecclesiastes 3:18 Lit in my heart
  7. Ecclesiastes 3:19 Lit and they have one fate
  8. Ecclesiastes 3:22 Or reward

The Evils of Oppression

Then I looked again at all the acts of (A)oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold, I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had (B)no one to comfort them; and power was on the side of their oppressors, but they had no one to comfort them. So (C)I congratulated the dead who are already dead, more than the living who are still living. But (D)better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.

I have seen that every labor and every (E)skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a person and his neighbor. This too is (F)futility and striving after wind. The fool (G)folds his hands and (H)consumes his own flesh. One hand full of rest is (I)better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.

Then I looked again at futility under the sun. There was a man without a [a]dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, (J)his eyes were not satisfied with riches, and he never asked, “And (K)for whom do I labor and deprive myself of pleasure?” This too is futility, and it is an (L)unhappy task.

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor; 10 for if [b]either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not [c]another to lift him up! 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they [d]keep warm, but (M)how can one be warm alone? 12 And if [e]one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

13 A (N)poor yet wise youth is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive [f]instruction— 14 for he has come (O)out of prison to become king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom. 15 I have seen all those living under the sun move to the side of the second youth who [g]replaces him. 16 There is no end to all the people, to all who were before them. Even the ones who will come later will not be happy with him; for this too is (P)futility and striving after wind.


  1. Ecclesiastes 4:8 Lit second
  2. Ecclesiastes 4:10 Lit they fall
  3. Ecclesiastes 4:10 Lit a second
  4. Ecclesiastes 4:11 Lit have warmth
  5. Ecclesiastes 4:12 Lit he
  6. Ecclesiastes 4:13 Or warning
  7. Ecclesiastes 4:15 Lit stands in his place

Your Attitude toward God

[a](A)Guard your steps as you go to the house of God, and approach to listen rather than to offer the (B)sacrifice of fools; for they do not know that they are doing evil. [b]Do not be (C)quick with your mouth or [c]impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your (D)words be few. For the dream comes through much [d]effort, and the voice of a (E)fool through many words.

When you (F)make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. (G)Pay what you vow! It is (H)better that you not vow, than vow and not pay. Do not let your [e]speech cause [f]you to sin, and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a (I)mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice, and destroy the work of your hands? For in many dreams and in many words there is futility. Rather, [g](J)fear God.

If you see (K)oppression of the poor and (L)denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be (M)shocked at the [h]sight; for one [i]official watches over another [j]official, and there are higher [k]officials over them. After all, a king who cultivates the field is beneficial to the land.

The Foolishness of Riches

10 (N)One who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor one who loves abundance with its income. This too is futility. 11 (O)When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners except to [l]look at them? 12 The sleep of the laborer is (P)sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the [m]full stomach of the rich person does not allow him to sleep.

13 There is a sickening evil which I have seen under the sun: (Q)wealth being [n]hoarded by its owner to his detriment. 14 When that wealth was lost through bad business and he had fathered a son, then there was nothing [o]to support him. 15 (R)As he came naked from his mother’s womb, so he will return as he came. He will (S)take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand. 16 This also is a sickening evil: exactly as a person [p]is born, so will he [q]die. (T)What then is the advantage for him who (U)labors for the wind? 17 All his life (V)he also eats in darkness with (W)great irritation, sickness, and anger.

18 Here is what I have seen to be (X)good and [r]fitting: to eat, to drink, and [s]enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he labors under the sun during the few [t]years of his life which God has given him; for this is his [u](Y)reward. 19 Furthermore, as for every person to whom (Z)God has given riches and wealth, He has also (AA)given him the opportunity to [v]enjoy them and to receive his [w]reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the (AB)gift of God. 20 For he will not often call to mind the [x]years of his life, because (AC)God keeps [y]him busy with the joy of his heart.


  1. Ecclesiastes 5:1 Ch 4:17 in Heb
  2. Ecclesiastes 5:2 Ch 5:1 in Heb
  3. Ecclesiastes 5:2 Lit hurry your heart
  4. Ecclesiastes 5:3 Lit task
  5. Ecclesiastes 5:6 Lit mouth
  6. Ecclesiastes 5:6 Lit your body
  7. Ecclesiastes 5:7 Or revere
  8. Ecclesiastes 5:8 Lit delight
  9. Ecclesiastes 5:8 Lit high one
  10. Ecclesiastes 5:8 Lit high one
  11. Ecclesiastes 5:8 Lit ones
  12. Ecclesiastes 5:11 Lit see with their eyes
  13. Ecclesiastes 5:12 Lit satiety
  14. Ecclesiastes 5:13 Lit guarded
  15. Ecclesiastes 5:14 Lit in his hand
  16. Ecclesiastes 5:16 Lit comes
  17. Ecclesiastes 5:16 Lit go
  18. Ecclesiastes 5:18 Lit beautiful
  19. Ecclesiastes 5:18 Lit see good
  20. Ecclesiastes 5:18 Or days
  21. Ecclesiastes 5:18 Or share
  22. Ecclesiastes 5:19 Lit eat from it
  23. Ecclesiastes 5:19 Or share
  24. Ecclesiastes 5:20 Or days
  25. Ecclesiastes 5:20 As in LXX

The Futility of Life

There is an (A)evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is widespread [a]among mankind: a person to whom God has (B)given riches, wealth, and honor, so that his soul (C)lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God has not given him the opportunity to [b]enjoy these things, but a foreigner [c]enjoys them. This is futility and a severe affliction. If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, however many [d]they may be, but his soul is not satisfied with good things and he does not even have a proper (D)burial, then I say, “Better (E)the miscarriage than he, for a miscarriage comes in futility and goes into darkness; and its name is covered in darkness. It has not even seen the sun nor does it know it; yet [e]it is better off than that man. Even if the man lives a thousand years twice, but does not see good things—(F)do not all go to one and the same place?”

(G)All a person’s labor is for his mouth, and yet [f]his appetite is not [g]satisfied. For (H)what advantage does the wise person have over the fool? What does the poor person have, knowing how to walk before the living? What the eyes (I)see is better than what the soul [h]desires. This too is (J)futility and striving after wind.

10 Whatever (K)exists has already been named, and it is known what man is; for he (L)cannot dispute with the [i]one who is mightier than he is. 11 For there are many words which increase futility. What then is the advantage to a person? 12 For who knows what is good for a person during his lifetime, during the few [j]years of his futile life? He will [k]spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a person (M)what will happen after him under the sun?


  1. Ecclesiastes 6:1 Lit upon
  2. Ecclesiastes 6:2 Lit eat from it
  3. Ecclesiastes 6:2 Lit eats it
  4. Ecclesiastes 6:3 Lit the days of his years
  5. Ecclesiastes 6:5 Lit more rest has this one than that
  6. Ecclesiastes 6:7 Lit the soul
  7. Ecclesiastes 6:7 Lit filled
  8. Ecclesiastes 6:9 Lit goes after
  9. Ecclesiastes 6:10 Or Him who
  10. Ecclesiastes 6:12 Lit days
  11. Ecclesiastes 6:12 Lit do

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