Wisdom and Foolishness Contrasted

A (A)good name is better than good [a]oil,
And the (B)day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
Than to go to a house of feasting,
Because [b]that is the (C)end of every person,
And the living [c](D)takes it to [d]heart.
(E)Sorrow is better than laughter,
For (F)when a face is sad a heart may be happy.
The [e]mind of the wise is in the house of mourning,
While the [f]mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.
It is better to (G)listen to the rebuke of a wise person
Than for one to listen to the song of fools.
For as the [g]crackling of (H)thorn bushes under a pot,
So is the (I)laughter of the fool;
And this too is futility.
For (J)oppression makes a wise person look foolish,
And a (K)bribe [h]corrupts the heart.
The (L)end of a matter is better than its beginning;
(M)Patience of spirit is better than arrogance of spirit.
Do not be [i](N)eager in your spirit to be angry,
For anger resides in the [j]heart of fools.
10 Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.
11 Wisdom along with an inheritance is good,
And an (O)advantage to those who see the sun.
12 For (P)wisdom is [k]protection just as money is [l]protection,
But the advantage of knowledge is that (Q)wisdom keeps its possessors alive.
13 Consider the (R)work of God,
For who is (S)able to straighten what He has bent?
14 (T)On the day of prosperity be happy,
But (U)on the day of adversity consider:
God has made the one as well as the other
So that a person will (V)not discover anything that will come after him.

15 I have seen everything during my [m](W)lifetime of futility; there is (X)a righteous person who perishes in his righteousness, and there is (Y)a wicked person who prolongs his life in his wickedness. 16 Do not be excessively (Z)righteous, and do not (AA)be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? 17 Do not be excessively wicked, and do not be foolish. Why should you (AB)die [n]before your time? 18 It is good that you grasp one thing while not [o]letting go of the other; for one who (AC)fears God comes out with [p]both of them.

19 (AD)Wisdom strengthens a wise person more than ten rulers who are in a city. 20 Indeed, (AE)there is not a righteous person on earth who always does good and does not ever sin. 21 Also, do not [q]take seriously all the words which are spoken, so that you do not hear your servant (AF)cursing you, 22 for [r]you know that even you have cursed others many times as well.

23 I tested all this with wisdom, and I said, “I will be wise,” (AG)but wisdom was far from me. 24 What has been is remote and (AH)very [s]mysterious. (AI)Who can discover it? 25 I [t](AJ)directed my [u]mind to know and to investigate, and to seek wisdom and an explanation, and to know the evil of foolishness and the foolishness of insanity. 26 And I discovered as more (AK)bitter than death the woman whose heart is (AL)snares and nets, whose hands are chains. (AM)One who is pleasing to God will escape from her, but (AN)the sinner will be captured by her.

27 “Behold, I have discovered this,” says the Preacher, “by adding one thing to another to find an explanation, 28 which [v]I am still seeking but have not found. I have found one man among a thousand, but I have not found a (AO)woman among all these. 29 Behold, I have found only this, that (AP)God made people upright, but they have sought out many schemes.”


  1. Ecclesiastes 7:1 I.e., olive oil
  2. Ecclesiastes 7:2 I.e., death
  3. Ecclesiastes 7:2 Lit gives
  4. Ecclesiastes 7:2 Lit his heart
  5. Ecclesiastes 7:4 Lit heart
  6. Ecclesiastes 7:4 Lit heart
  7. Ecclesiastes 7:6 Lit voice
  8. Ecclesiastes 7:7 Lit destroys
  9. Ecclesiastes 7:9 Lit hasty
  10. Ecclesiastes 7:9 Lit chest
  11. Ecclesiastes 7:12 Lit in a shadow
  12. Ecclesiastes 7:12 Lit in a shadow
  13. Ecclesiastes 7:15 Lit days
  14. Ecclesiastes 7:17 Lit when not your time
  15. Ecclesiastes 7:18 Lit resting your hand
  16. Ecclesiastes 7:18 Lit all of them
  17. Ecclesiastes 7:21 Lit give your heart to
  18. Ecclesiastes 7:22 Lit your heart knows
  19. Ecclesiastes 7:24 Lit deep
  20. Ecclesiastes 7:25 Lit turned about
  21. Ecclesiastes 7:25 Lit heart
  22. Ecclesiastes 7:28 Lit my soul still seeks

Obey Rulers

Who is like the wise person and who knows the meaning of a matter? A person’s wisdom (A)illuminates his face and makes his (B)stern face [a]brighten up.

I say, “Keep the [b]command of the king because of the (C)oath [c]before God. Do not be in a hurry [d](D)to leave him. Do not join in an evil matter, for he will do whatever he pleases.” Since the word of the king is authoritative, (E)who will say to him, “What are you doing?”

One who (F)keeps a royal command (G)experiences no [e]trouble, for a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure. For (H)there is a proper time and procedure for every delight, though a person’s trouble is heavy upon him. If no one (I)knows what will happen, who can tell him when it will happen? (J)No one has authority over the wind to restrain the wind, nor authority over the day of death; and there is no military discharge in the time of war, and (K)evil will not save [f]those who practice it. All this I have seen, and have applied my [g]mind to every deed that has been done under the sun at a time when one person has exercised (L)authority over another person to his detriment.

10 So then, I have seen the wicked buried, those who used to go in and out of the holy place, and they are (M)soon forgotten in the city where they did such things. This too is futility. 11 Because the (N)sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore (O)the hearts of the sons of mankind among them are [h]fully given to do evil. 12 Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and may (P)lengthen his life, still I know that it will go (Q)well for those who fear God, who fear [i]Him openly. 13 But it will (R)not go well for the evil person and he will not lengthen his days like a (S)shadow, because he does not fear God.

14 There is futility which is done on the earth, that is, there are (T)righteous people to whom it [j]happens according to the deeds of the wicked. On the other hand, there are (U)evil people to whom it [k]happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I say that this too is futility. 15 So I commended pleasure, for there is nothing good for (V)a person under the sun except to eat, drink, and be joyful, and this will stand by him in his labor throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.

16 When I (W)devoted my [l]mind to know wisdom and to see the business which has been done on the earth (even though one should [m](X)never sleep day or night), 17 and I saw every work of God, I concluded that (Y)one cannot discover the work which has been done under the sun. Even though a person laboriously seeks, he will not discover; and (Z)even if the wise person claims to know, he cannot discover.


  1. Ecclesiastes 8:1 Or change
  2. Ecclesiastes 8:2 Lit mouth
  3. Ecclesiastes 8:2 Lit of
  4. Ecclesiastes 8:3 Lit to go out from his presence
  5. Ecclesiastes 8:5 Lit evil thing
  6. Ecclesiastes 8:8 Lit its possessors
  7. Ecclesiastes 8:9 Lit heart
  8. Ecclesiastes 8:11 Lit full to do
  9. Ecclesiastes 8:12 Lit before Him
  10. Ecclesiastes 8:14 Lit strikes
  11. Ecclesiastes 8:14 Lit strikes
  12. Ecclesiastes 8:16 Lit heart
  13. Ecclesiastes 8:16 Lit see no sleep in his eyes

People Are in the Hand of God

For I have taken all this to my heart, even to [a]examine [b]it all, that righteous people, wise people, and their deeds are (A)in the hand of God. (B)People do not know whether it will be (C)love or hatred; anything [c]awaits them.

(D)It is the same for all. There is (E)one fate for the righteous and for the wicked; for the good, for the clean and the unclean; for the person who offers a sacrifice and for the one who does not sacrifice. As the good person is, so is the sinner; the one who swears an oath is just as the one who [d]is afraid to swear an oath. This is an evil in everything that is done under the sun, that there is (F)one fate for everyone. Furthermore, (G)the hearts of the sons of mankind are full of evil, and (H)insanity is in their hearts throughout their lives. Afterward they go to the dead. For whoever is joined to all the living, there is hope; for better a live dog, than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die; but the dead (I)do not know anything, nor do they have a reward any longer, for their (J)memory is forgotten. Indeed their love, their hate, and their zeal have already perished, and they will no longer have a (K)share in all that is done under the sun.

Go then, (L)eat your bread in happiness, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works. See that your (M)clothes are white all the time, and that there is no lack of (N)oil on your head. [e]Enjoy life with the wife whom you love all the days of your (O)futile life which He has given you under the sun, [f]all the days of your futility; for this is your (P)reward in life and in your work which you have labored under the sun.

Whatever Your Hand Finds to Do

10 Whatever your hand finds to do, (Q)do it with all your might; for there is no (R)activity, planning, knowledge, or wisdom in (S)Sheol where you are going.

11 I again saw under the sun that the (T)race is not to the swift and the (U)battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor (V)wealth to the discerning, nor favor to the skillful; for time and (W)chance overtake them all. 12 For indeed, a person does not (X)know his time: like fish that are caught in a treacherous net and (Y)birds caught in a snare, so the sons of mankind are (Z)ensnared at an evil time when it (AA)suddenly falls on them.

13 This too I saw as wisdom under the sun, and [g]it impressed me: 14 there (AB)was a small city with few men in it, and a great king came to it, surrounded it, and constructed large siegeworks against it. 15 But there was found in it a (AC)poor wise man, and he [h]saved the city (AD)by his wisdom. Yet (AE)no one remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, “(AF)Wisdom is better than strength.” But the wisdom of the poor man is despised, and his words are [i]ignored. 17 The (AG)words of the wise heard in calm are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. 18 (AH)Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but (AI)one sinner destroys much good.


  1. Ecclesiastes 9:1 Or explain
  2. Ecclesiastes 9:1 Lit all this
  3. Ecclesiastes 9:1 Lit is before them
  4. Ecclesiastes 9:2 Lit fears an oath
  5. Ecclesiastes 9:9 Lit See
  6. Ecclesiastes 9:9 all...your futility not found in some ancient versions
  7. Ecclesiastes 9:13 Lit it was great to me
  8. Ecclesiastes 9:15 Or might have saved
  9. Ecclesiastes 9:16 Lit not listened to

A Little Foolishness

10 Dead flies turn a (A)perfumer’s oil rancid, so a little foolishness is more [a]potent than wisdom and honor. A wise person’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish (B)person’s heart directs him toward the left. Even when the fool walks along the road, his [b]sense is lacking, and he [c](C)demonstrates to everyone that he is a fool. If the ruler’s [d]temper rises against you, (D)do not abandon your place, because (E)composure puts great offenses to rest.

There is an evil I have seen under the sun, like a mistake that proceeds from the ruler: (F)foolishness is set in many exalted places while the rich sit in humble places. I have seen (G)slaves riding (H)on horses and princes walking like slaves on the land.

(I)One who digs a pit may fall into it, and a (J)serpent may bite one who breaks through a wall. One who quarries stones may be hurt by them, and one who splits logs may be endangered by them. 10 If the [e]axe is dull and he does not sharpen its [f]edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of bringing success. 11 If the serpent bites [g](K)before being charmed, there is no benefit for the charmer. 12 (L)Words from the mouth of a wise person are gracious, while the lips of a (M)fool consume him; 13 the beginning of [h]his talking is foolishness, and the end of [i]it is evil (N)insanity. 14 Yet the (O)fool multiplies words. No person knows what will happen, and who can tell him (P)what will come after him? 15 The labor of [j]a fool makes him so weary that he does not even know how to go to a city. 16 Woe to you, land whose (Q)king is a boy, and whose princes [k]feast in the morning. 17 Blessed are you, land whose king is of nobility, and whose princes eat at the appropriate time—for strength and not for (R)drunkenness. 18 Through (S)extreme laziness the rafters sag, and through idleness the house leaks. 19 People prepare a meal for enjoyment, (T)wine makes life joyful, and (U)money [l]is the answer to everything. 20 Furthermore, (V)in your bedroom do not (W)curse a king, and in your sleeping rooms do not curse a rich person; for a bird of the sky will bring the sound, and the winged one will make your word known.


  1. Ecclesiastes 10:1 Lit costly
  2. Ecclesiastes 10:3 Lit heart
  3. Ecclesiastes 10:3 Lit says
  4. Ecclesiastes 10:4 Lit spirit
  5. Ecclesiastes 10:10 Lit iron
  6. Ecclesiastes 10:10 Lit faces
  7. Ecclesiastes 10:11 Lit with no incantation
  8. Ecclesiastes 10:13 Lit the words of his mouth
  9. Ecclesiastes 10:13 Lit his mouth
  10. Ecclesiastes 10:15 Lit fools make
  11. Ecclesiastes 10:16 Lit eat
  12. Ecclesiastes 10:19 Lit answers all

Cast Your Bread on the Waters

11 (A)Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you (B)will find it [a]after many days. (C)Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what (D)misfortune may occur on the earth. If the clouds are full, they pour out rain on the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it [b]lies. One who watches the wind will not sow and one who looks at the clouds will not harvest. Just as you do not (E)know the path of the [c]wind, and (F)how bones are formed in the womb of the [d]pregnant woman, so you do not (G)know the activity of God who makes everything.

Sow your seed (H)in the morning and do not [e]be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether [f]one or the other will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.

The light is pleasant, and it is good for the eyes to (I)see the sun. Indeed, if a person lives many years, let him (J)rejoice in them all; but let him remember the (K)days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything that is to come will be futility.

Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the [g]impulses of your heart and the [h](L)desires of your eyes. Yet know that (M)God will bring you to judgment for all these things. 10 So remove [i]sorrow from your heart and keep [j](N)pain away from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are [k]fleeting.


  1. Ecclesiastes 11:1 Lit in, within
  2. Ecclesiastes 11:3 Lit is
  3. Ecclesiastes 11:5 Or with many mss spirit into the bones in the womb
  4. Ecclesiastes 11:5 Lit full
  5. Ecclesiastes 11:6 Lit let down your hand
  6. Ecclesiastes 11:6 Lit this or that
  7. Ecclesiastes 11:9 Lit ways
  8. Ecclesiastes 11:9 Lit sights
  9. Ecclesiastes 11:10 Or anger
  10. Ecclesiastes 11:10 Lit evil
  11. Ecclesiastes 11:10 Lit futility

Remember God in Your Youth

12 (A)Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the (B)evil days come and the years approach when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; before the (C)sun and the light, the moon and the stars are darkened, and clouds return after the rain; on the day that the watchmen of the house tremble, and strong men are (D)bent over, the grinders stop working because they are few, and (E)those who look through [a]windows grow [b]dim; and the doors on the street are shut as the (F)sound of the grinding mill is low, and one will arise at the sound of the bird, and all the (G)daughters of song will [c]sing softly. Furthermore, people are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and the caper berry is ineffective. For man goes to his eternal (H)home while the (I)mourners move around in the street. Remember your Creator before the silver cord is [d]broken and the (J)golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the spring is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; then the (K)dust will return to the earth as it was, and the [e](L)spirit will return to (M)God who gave it. (N)Futility of futilities,” says the Preacher, “all is futility!”

Purpose of the Preacher

In addition to being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out, and arranged (O)many proverbs. 10 The Preacher sought to find (P)delightful words and to write (Q)words of truth correctly.

11 The (R)words of the wise are like [f](S)goads, and masters of these collections are like driven (T)nails; they are given by one Shepherd. 12 But beyond this, my son, be warned: the [g]writing of (U)many books is endless, and excessive (V)study is [h]wearying to the body.

13 The conclusion, when everything has been heard, is: (W)fear God and (X)keep His commandments, because this applies to (Y)every person. 14 For (Z)God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.


  1. Ecclesiastes 12:3 Or holes
  2. Ecclesiastes 12:3 I.e., in their eyesight
  3. Ecclesiastes 12:4 Lit be low
  4. Ecclesiastes 12:6 As in LXX; Heb removed
  5. Ecclesiastes 12:7 Or breath
  6. Ecclesiastes 12:11 I.e., spiked sticks for driving cattle
  7. Ecclesiastes 12:12 Lit making
  8. Ecclesiastes 12:12 Lit weariness

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