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Ecclesiastes 11-12 Common English Bible (CEB)

Take risks; life is short

11 Send your bread out on the water because, in the course of time, you may find it again. Give a portion to seven people, even to eight: you don’t know what disaster may come upon the land. If clouds fill up, they will empty out rain on the earth. If a tree falls, whether to the south or to the north, wherever it falls, there it will lie. Those who watch the wind blow will never sow, and those who observe the clouds will never reap. Just as you don’t understand what the life-breath does in the fetus[a] inside a pregnant woman’s womb, so you can’t understand the work of God, who makes everything happen. Scatter your seed in the morning, and in the evening don’t be idle because you don’t know which will succeed, this one or that, or whether both will be equally good.

Sweet is the light, and it’s pleasant for the eyes to see the sun. Even those who live many years should take pleasure in them all. But they should be mindful that there will also be many dark days. Everything that happens is pointless.

Rejoice, young person, while you are young! Your heart should make you happy in your prime. Follow your heart’s inclinations and whatever your eyes see, but know this: God will call you to account for all of these things. 10 Remove anxiety from your heart, banish pain from your body, because youth and the dawn of life are pointless too.

Troubling days to come

12 Remember your creator in your prime,
    before the days of trouble arrive,
    and those years, about which you’ll say, “I take no pleasure in these”—
    before the sun and the light grow dark, the moon and the stars too,
        before the clouds return after the rain;
    on the day when the housekeepers tremble and the strong men stoop;
when the women who grind stop working because they’re so few,
    and those who look through the windows grow dim;
    when the doors to the street are shut,
        when the sound of the mill fades,
        the sound of the bird rises,
        and all the singers come down low;
    when people are afraid of things above
    and of terrors along the way;
    when the almond tree blanches, the locust droops,
        and the caper-berry comes to nothing;[b]
when the human goes to the eternal abode,
    with mourners all around in the street;
    before the silver cord snaps and the gold bowl shatters;
        the jar is broken at the spring and the wheel is crushed at the pit;
    before dust returns to the earth as it was before
        and the life-breath returns to God who gave it.

Motto and conclusion

Perfectly pointless, says the Teacher, everything is pointless.

Additionally: Because the Teacher was wise, he constantly taught the people knowledge. He listened and investigated. He composed many proverbs. 10 The Teacher searched for pleasing words, and he wrote truthful words honestly.

11 The words of the wise are like iron-tipped prods;
    the collected sayings of the masters
        are like nails fixed firmly by a shepherd.[c]
12     Be careful, my child, of anything beyond them!

There’s no end to the excessive production of scrolls. Studying too much wearies the body. 13 So this is the end of the matter; all has been heard. Worship God and keep God’s commandments because this is what everyone must do. 14 God will definitely bring every deed to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or bad.

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 11:5 Correction with Tg; MT like the bones
  2. Ecclesiastes 12:5 Heb uncertain
  3. Ecclesiastes 12:11 Or fixed by one shepherd
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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