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Ecclesiastes 3Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

The Mystery of Time

There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven:
a time to give birth and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to uproot;[a]
a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to tear down and a time to build;
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing;
a time to search and a time to count as lost;
a time to keep and a time to throw away;
a time to tear and a time to sew;
a time to be silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

What does the worker gain from his struggles? 10 I have seen the task that God has given people to keep them occupied. 11 He has made everything appropriate[b] in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts,[c] but man cannot discover the work God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy the[d] good life. 13 It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts. 14 I know that all God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of Him. 15 Whatever is, has already been, and whatever will be, already is. God repeats what has passed.[e]

The Mystery of Injustice and Death

16 I also observed under the sun: there is wickedness at the place of judgment and there is wickedness at the place of righteousness. 17 I said to myself, “God will judge the righteous and the wicked, since there is a time for every activity and every work.” 18 I said to myself, “This happens concerning people, so that God may test them and they may see for themselves that they are like animals.” 19 For the fate of people and the fate of animals is the same. As one dies, so dies the other; they all have the same breath. People have no advantage over animals since everything is futile. 20 All are going to the same place; all come from dust, and all return to dust. 21 Who knows if the spirit of people rises upward and the spirit of animals goes downward to the earth? 22 I have seen that there is nothing better than for a person to enjoy his activities because that is his reward. For who can enable him to see what will happen after he dies?[f]


  1. Ecclesiastes 3:2 Lit uproot what is planted
  2. Ecclesiastes 3:11 Or beautiful
  3. Ecclesiastes 3:11 Or has put a sense of past and future into their minds, or has placed ignorance in their hearts
  4. Ecclesiastes 3:12 Lit his
  5. Ecclesiastes 3:15 Or God calls the past to account, or God seeks what is past, or God seeks the persecuted; lit God seeks [the] pursued
  6. Ecclesiastes 3:22 Lit after him

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