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Ecclesiastes 1Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Everything is Futile

The words of the Teacher,[a] son of David, king in Jerusalem.

“Absolute futility,” says the Teacher.
“Absolute futility. Everything is futile.”
What does a man gain for all his efforts
that he labors at under the sun?
A generation goes and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets;
panting, it returns to its place
where it rises.
Gusting to the south,
turning to the north,
turning, turning, goes the wind,
and the wind returns in its cycles.
All the streams flow to the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
The streams are flowing to the place,
and they flow there again.
All things[b] are wearisome;
man is unable to speak.
The eye is not satisfied by seeing
or the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Can one say about anything,
“Look, this is new”?
It has already existed in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance of those who[c] came before;
and of those who[d] will come after
there will also be no remembrance
by those who follow them.

The Limitations of Wisdom

12 I, the Teacher, have been[e] king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to seek and explore through wisdom all that is done under heaven. God has given people this miserable task to keep them occupied. 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun and have found everything to be futile, a pursuit of the wind.[f]

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

16 I said to myself,[g] “Look, I have amassed wisdom far beyond all those who were over Jerusalem before me, and my mind has thoroughly grasped[h] wisdom and knowledge.” 17 I applied my mind to know wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly; I learned that this too is a pursuit of the wind.[i]

18 For with much wisdom is much sorrow;
as knowledge increases, grief increases.

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 1:1 Or of Qoheleth, or of the Leader of the Assembly
  2. Ecclesiastes 1:8 Or words
  3. Ecclesiastes 1:11 Or of the things that
  4. Ecclesiastes 1:11 Or of the things that
  5. Ecclesiastes 1:12 Or Teacher, was
  6. Ecclesiastes 1:14 Or a feeding on wind, or an affliction of spirit
  7. Ecclesiastes 1:16 Lit said with my heart
  8. Ecclesiastes 1:16 Or discerned
  9. Ecclesiastes 1:17 Or a feeding on wind, or an affliction of spirit
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