1 These are the words of the Teacher. He is a son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2 The Teacher says, “Useless! Useless! Completely useless! All things are useless.”
3 What do people really gain from all the hard work they do here on earth?
Things Never Change
4 People live, and people die. But the earth continues forever. 5 The sun rises, and the sun sets. Then it hurries back to the place where it rises again. 6 The wind blows to the south. Then it blows to the north. It blows from one direction and then another. Then it turns around and repeats the same pattern, going nowhere. 7 All the rivers flow to the sea. But the sea never becomes full. 8 Everything is boring. It makes you so tired you don’t even want to talk about it. Words come again and again to our ears. But we never can hear enough. Nor can we ever really see all we want to see. 9 All things continue the way they have been since the beginning. The same things will be done that have always been done. There is nothing new here on earth. 10 A person might say, “Look, this is new!” But really it has always been here. It was here before we were! 11 People don’t remember what happened long ago. In the future, people will not remember what happens now. And later, other people will not remember what was done before them.
Does Wisdom Bring Happiness?
12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I decided to use my wisdom. I wanted to learn about everything that happens here on earth. I learned that God has given us terrible things to face here on earth. 14 I looked at everything done here on earth. I saw that it is all a waste of time. It is like chasing the wind.
15 If something is crooked, you can’t make it straight. If something is missing, you can’t say it is there.
16 I said to myself, “I have become very wise. I am now wiser than anyone who ruled Jerusalem before me. I know what wisdom and knowledge really are.” 17 So I decided to find out how wisdom and knowledge are better than foolish thinking. But I learned that trying to become wise is also like chasing the wind.
18 With much wisdom comes much disappointment. The person who gains more knowledge also gains more sorrow.
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