English Standard Version
The Vanity of Wisdom
12 I (A)the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I (B)applied my heart[a] to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy (C)business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is (D)vanity[b] and a striving after wind.[c]
15 (E)What is crooked cannot be made straight,
and what is lacking cannot be counted.
16 I said in my heart, “I have acquired great (F)wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I (G)applied my heart to know wisdom and to know (H)madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but (I)a striving after wind.
18 For (J)in much wisdom is much vexation,
and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.
The Vanity of Self-Indulgence
2 I (K)said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.[d] 2 I (L)said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” 3 I (M)searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on (N)folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. 4 I made great works. I (O)built houses and planted (P)vineyards for myself. 5 I made myself (Q)gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and had (R)slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of (S)herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and (T)gold and the treasure of (U)kings and (V)provinces. I got (W)singers, both men and women, and many (X)concubines,[e] the delight of the sons of man.
9 So I became great and (Y)surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my (Z)wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart (AA)found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my (AB)reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was (AC)vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing (AD)to be gained under the sun.
- Ecclesiastes 1:13 The Hebrew term denotes the center of one's inner life, including mind, will, and emotions
- Ecclesiastes 1:14 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath” (see note on 1:2)
- Ecclesiastes 1:14 Or a feeding on wind; compare Hosea 12:1 (also in Ecclesiastes 1:17; 2:11, 17, 26; 4:4, 6, 16; 6:9)
- Ecclesiastes 2:1 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath”; also verses 11, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 26 (see note on 1:2)
- Ecclesiastes 2:8 The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain