Ecclesiastes 2 New International Version (NIV)
Pleasures Are Meaningless
2 I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. 2 “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” 3 I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.
4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem[a] as well—the delights of a man’s heart. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
Wisdom and Folly Are Meaningless
12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,
15 Then I said to myself,
“The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
Toil Is Meaningless
17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23 All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.
24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Ecclesiastes 2 New International Reader's Version (NIRV)
Pleasure Is Meaningless
2 I said to myself, “Come on. I’ll try out pleasure. I want to find out if it is good.” But it also proved to be meaningless. 2 “Laughter doesn’t make any sense,” I said. “And what can pleasure do for me?” 3 I tried cheering myself up by drinking wine. I even tried living in a foolish way. But wisdom was still guiding my mind. I wanted to see what was good for people to do on earth during their short lives.
4 So I started some large projects. I built houses for myself. I planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks. I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made lakes to water groves of healthy trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves. And I had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem ever had before. 8 I stored up silver and gold for myself. I gathered up the treasures of kings and their kingdoms. I got some male and female singers. I also got many women for myself. Women delight the hearts of men. 9 I became far more important than anyone in Jerusalem had ever been before. And in spite of everything, I didn’t lose my wisdom.
10 I gave myself everything my eyes wanted.
Wisdom and Foolish Pleasure Are Meaningless
12 I decided to think about wisdom.
15 Then I said to myself,
“What happens to a foolish person will catch up with me too.
Work Is Meaningless
17 So I hated life. That’s because the work done on this earth made me sad. None of it has any meaning. It’s like chasing the wind. 18 I hated everything I had worked for on earth. I’ll have to leave all of it to someone who lives after me. 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Either way, they’ll take over everything on earth I’ve worked so hard for. That doesn’t have any meaning either. 20 So I began to lose hope because of all my hard work on this earth. 21 A person might use wisdom, knowledge and skill to do their work. But then they have to leave everything they own to someone who hasn’t worked for it. That doesn’t have any meaning either. In fact, it isn’t fair. 22 What do people get for all their hard work on earth? What do they get for all their worries? 23 As long as they live, their work is nothing but pain and sorrow. Even at night their minds can’t rest. That doesn’t have any meaning either.
24 A person can’t do anything better than eat, drink and be satisfied with their work. I’m finally seeing that those things also come from the hand of God. 25 Without his help, who can eat or find pleasure? 26 God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness to the person who pleases him. But to a sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth. Then the sinner must hand it over to the one who pleases God. That doesn’t have any meaning either. It’s like chasing the wind.
Ecclesiastes 2 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Vanity of Self-Indulgence
2 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.[a] 2 I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” 3 I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. 4 I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. 5 I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines,[b] the delight of the sons of man.
9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
The Vanity of Living Wisely
12 So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. 13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. 14 The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. 15 Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 16 For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! 17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.
The Vanity of Toil
18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23 For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.
24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment[c] in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him[d] who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
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