1 These are the words of the ·Teacher [or Preacher; L Assembler; C of a group], a son of David, king in Jerusalem [C an allusion to Solomon].
2 The ·Teacher [or Preacher; L Assembler; 1:1] says, “·Useless [Meaningless; or Absurd; or Enigmatic; or Transient; T Vanity; L Vapor; Bubble; C and so throughout this book]! Useless! Completely useless! Everything is useless.”
3 What do people really ·gain [profit] from all the ·hard work [toil] they do ·here on earth [L under the sun]?
Things Never Change
4 ·People live [L A generation goes], and ·people die [L a generation comes], but the earth ·continues [endures; remains] forever. 5 The sun rises, the sun sets, and then it ·hurries back [L pants] to where it rises again [Ps. 19:5–6]. 6 ·The wind [L It] blows to the south; it ·blows [L goes around] to the north. ·It blows from one direction and then another [L The wind goes round and round]. ·Then it turns around and repeats the same pattern, going nowhere [L The wind keeps blowing in circles]. 7 All the rivers flow to the sea, but the sea never becomes full. The rivers return to the place from which they flow. 8 Everything is ·boring [wearisome], ·so boring that you don’t even want to talk about it [L beyond words]. ·Words come again and again to our ears, but we never hear enough [L The ear is never satisfied with hearing], nor ·can we ever really see all we want to see [L the eye with seeing]. 9 ·All things continue the way they have been since the beginning [L Whatever is will be again]. What has happened will happen again; there is nothing new ·here on earth [L under the sun; v. 3]. 10 ·Someone might say [L Here is a common expression], “Look, this is new,” but ·really it has always been here [it was already here long ago]. It ·was here before we were [existed before our time]. 11 ·People don’t remember what happened long ago [L There is no remembrance of the past], ·and in the future people will not remember what happens now [L nor will there be any remembrance of what will be in the future]. ·Even later, other people will not remember what was done before them [L There is no remembrance of them among those who will exist in the future].
Does Wisdom Bring Happiness?
12 I, the ·Teacher [or Preacher; L Assembler; 1:1], ·was [or have been] king over Israel in Jerusalem [1:1]. 13 I ·decided [devoted myself] to use my wisdom to ·learn [explore] about everything that happens ·on earth [L under heaven; v. 3]. I learned that God has given ·us terrible things to face [or the human race an evil/unhappy task to keep us occupied]. 14 I ·looked at [observed] everything done ·on earth [L under the sun; v. 3] and saw that it is all useless [v. 2], like chasing the wind.
15 If something is ·crooked [bent], you can’t make it straight. If something is missing, you can’t ·say it is there [L count it; C something is wrong with the world and it cannot be fixed].
16 I ·said to myself [L spoke with/to my heart], “I have ·become very wise and am now wiser than [surpassed in wisdom] anyone who ruled Jerusalem before me. I ·know what wisdom and knowledge really are [L have observed much wisdom and knowledge].” 17 So I ·decided to find out about [L gave my heart to understand] wisdom and knowledge and also ·about foolish thinking [madness and folly], but this turned out to be like chasing the wind.
18 With much wisdom comes much ·disappointment [frustration]; the person who gains more knowledge also gains more ·sorrow [pain].
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