Pleasures, sumptuous buildings, riches and possessions are but vanity. 14 The wise and the fool have both one end touching the bodily death.

I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove [a]thee with joy: therefore take thou pleasure in pleasant things: and behold, this also is vanity.

I said of laughter, Thou art mad: and of joy, What is this that thou doest?

I sought in mine heart [b]to give myself to wine, and to lead mine heart in [c]wisdom, and to take hold of folly, till I might see where is that goodness of the children of men, which they [d]enjoy under the Sun, the whole number of the days of their life.

I have made my great works: I have built me houses: I have planted me vineyards.

I have made me gardens and [e]orchards, and planted in them trees of all fruit.

I have made me cisterns of water, to water therewith the woods that grow with trees.

I have gotten servants and maids, and had children born in the [f]house: also I had great Possession of beeves and sheep above all that were before me in Jerusalem.

I have gathered unto me also silver and gold, and the chief treasures of Kings and provinces: I have provided me men singers, and women singers, and the [g]delights of the sons of men, as a woman [h]taken captive, and women taken captives.

And I was great, and increased above all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom [i]remained with me.

10 And whatsoever mine eyes desired, I withheld it not from them: I withdrew not mine heart from any joy: for mine heart rejoiced in all my labor: and this was my [j]portion of all my travail.

11 Then I looked on all my works that mine hands had wrought, and on the travail that I had labored to do: and behold, all is vanity and vexation of the spirit: and there is no profit under the Sun.

12 ¶ And I turned to behold [k]wisdom, and madness, and folly: (for who is the man that [l]will come after the King in things, which men now have done?)

13 Then I saw that there is profit in wisdom more than in folly: as the light is more excellent than darkness.

14 (A)For the wise man’s [m]eyes are in his head, but the fool walketh in darkness: yet I know also that the same [n]condition falleth to them all.

15 Then I thought in mine heart, It befalleth unto me, as it befalleth to the fool. Why therefore do I then labor to be more wise? And I said in mine heart, that this also is vanity.

16 For there shall be no remembrance of the wise, nor of the fool [o]forever: for that that now is, in the days to come, shall all be forgotten. And [p]how dieth the wise man, as doth the fool?

17 Therefore I hated life: for the work that is wrought under the Sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity, and vexation of the spirit.

18 I hated also all my labor, wherein I had travailed under the Sun, which I shall leave to the man that shall be after me.

19 And who knoweth whether he shall be wise or foolish? yet shall he have rule over all my labor, wherein I have travailed, and wherein I have showed myself wise under the Sun. This is also vanity.

20 Therefore I went about to make mine heart [q]abhor all the labor, wherein I had travailed under the Sun.

21 For there is a man whose travail is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity: yet to a man that hath not travailed herein, shall he [r]give his portion: this also is vanity, and a great grief.

22 For what hath man of all his travail and grief of his heart, wherein he hath travailed under the Sun?

23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief: his heart also taketh not rest in the night: which also is vanity.

24 There is no profit to man, but that he eat and drink, and [s]delight his soul with the profit of his labor: I saw also this, that it was of the hand of God.

25 For who could eat, and who could haste to [t]outward things more than I?

26 Surely to a man that is good in his sight, God giveth wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth pain to gather, and to heap to give to him that is good before God: this also is vanity, and vexation of the spirit.


  1. Ecclesiastes 2:1 Solomon maketh this discourse with himself, as though he would try whether there were contentation in ease and pleasures.
  2. Ecclesiastes 2:3 Hebrew, draw my flesh to wine.
  3. Ecclesiastes 2:3 Albeit I gave myself to pleasures, yet I thought to keep wisdom and the fear of God in mine heart, and govern mine affairs by the same.
  4. Ecclesiastes 2:3 Hebrew, do.
  5. Ecclesiastes 2:5 Hebrew, paradises.
  6. Ecclesiastes 2:7 Meaning, of the servants or slaves, which he had bought: so the children born in their servitude, were the masters.
  7. Ecclesiastes 2:8 That is, whatsoever men take pleasure in.
  8. Ecclesiastes 2:8 Which were the most beautiful of them that were taken in war, as Judg. 5:30. Some understand by these words, no women, but instruments of music.
  9. Ecclesiastes 2:9 For all this God did not take his gift of wisdom from me.
  10. Ecclesiastes 2:10 This was the fruit of all my labor, a certain pleasure mixed with care, which he calleth vanity in the next verse.
  11. Ecclesiastes 2:12 I bethought with myself whether it were better to follow wisdom, or mine own affections and pleasures, which he calleth madness.
  12. Ecclesiastes 2:12 Or, compare with the King.
  13. Ecclesiastes 2:14 He forseeth things, which the fool cannot for lack of wisdom.
  14. Ecclesiastes 2:14 For both die and are forgotten as verse 16, or they both alike have prosperity or adversity.
  15. Ecclesiastes 2:16 Meaning, in this world.
  16. Ecclesiastes 2:16 He wondereth that men forget a wise man, being dead, as soon as they do a fool.
  17. Ecclesiastes 2:20 That I might seek the true felicity which is in God.
  18. Ecclesiastes 2:21 Among other griefs that was not the least, to leave that which he had gotten by great travail, to one that had taken no pain therefore, and whom he knew not whether he were a wise man or a fool.
  19. Ecclesiastes 2:24 When man hath all labored, he can get no more than food and refreshing, yet he confesseth also that this cometh of God’s blessing, as Eccl. 3:13.
  20. Ecclesiastes 2:25 Meaning, to pleasures.

Pleasures Are Meaningless

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure(A) to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,”(B) I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine,(C) and embracing folly(D)—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.

I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself(E) and planted vineyards.(F) I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves(G) who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold(H) for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces.(I) I acquired male and female singers,(J) and a harem[a] as well—the delights of a man’s heart. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem(K) before me.(L) In all this my wisdom stayed with me.

10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
    I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
    and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
    and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;(M)
    nothing was gained under the sun.(N)

Wisdom and Folly Are Meaningless

12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,
    and also madness and folly.(O)
What more can the king’s successor do
    than what has already been done?(P)
13 I saw that wisdom(Q) is better than folly,(R)
    just as light is better than darkness.
14 The wise have eyes in their heads,
    while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize
    that the same fate overtakes them both.(S)

15 Then I said to myself,

“The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
    What then do I gain by being wise?”(T)
I said to myself,
    “This too is meaningless.”
16 For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered;(U)
    the days have already come when both have been forgotten.(V)
Like the fool, the wise too must die!(W)

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.(X) 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.(Y) 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish?(Z) 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?(AA) 23 All their days their work is grief and pain;(AB) even at night their minds do not rest.(AC) This too is meaningless.

24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink(AD) and find satisfaction in their own toil.(AE) This too, I see, is from the hand of God,(AF) 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?(AG) 26 To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom,(AH) knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth(AI) to hand it over to the one who pleases God.(AJ) This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.


  1. Ecclesiastes 2:8 The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.