1 The author: Solomon[a] of Jerusalem, King David’s son, “The Preacher.”
2 In my opinion, nothing is worthwhile; everything is futile. 3-7 For what does a man get for all his hard work?
Generations come and go, but it makes no difference.[b] The sun rises and sets and hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south and north, here and there, twisting back and forth, getting nowhere.* The rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full, and the water returns again to the rivers and flows again to the sea . . . 8-11 everything is unutterably weary and tiresome. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied; no matter how much we hear, we are not content.
History merely repeats itself. Nothing is truly new; it has all been done or said before. What can you point to that is new? How do you know it didn’t exist long ages ago? We don’t remember what happened in those former times, and in the future generations no one will remember what we have done back here.
12-15 I, the Preacher, was king of Israel, living in Jerusalem. And I applied myself to search for understanding about everything in the universe. I discovered that the lot of man, which God has dealt to him, is not a happy one. It is all foolishness, chasing the wind. What is wrong cannot be righted; it is water over the dam; and there is no use thinking of what might have been.
16-18 I said to myself, “Look, I am better educated than any of the kings before me in Jerusalem. I have greater wisdom and knowledge.” So I worked hard to be wise instead of foolish[c]—but now I realize that even this was like chasing the wind. For the more my wisdom, the more my grief; to increase knowledge only increases distress.
- Ecclesiastes 1:1 Solomon, implied; literally, “the words of the Preacher, the son [or descendant] of David, King of Jerusalem.”
- Ecclesiastes 1:3 but it makes no difference, literally, “but the earth remains forever.” getting nowhere, implied.
- Ecclesiastes 1:16 So I worked hard to be wise instead of foolish, or “So I sought to learn about composure and madness.”