The Contrast of Wisdom and Folly

(A)A good name is better than precious ointment,
    and (B)the day of death than the day of birth.
It is better to go to the house of mourning
    than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
    and the living will (C)lay it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
    (D)for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
    but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
It is (E)better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise
    than to hear the song of fools.
(F)For as the crackling of (G)thorns under a pot,
    so is the laughter of the fools;
    this also is vanity.[a]
Surely (H)oppression drives the wise into madness,
    and (I)a bribe corrupts the heart.
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning,
    and (J)the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
(K)Be not quick in your spirit to become angry,
    (L)for anger lodges in the heart[b] of fools.
10 Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?”
    For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance,
    an advantage to those who (M)see the sun.
12 For the protection of wisdom is like (N)the protection of money,
    and the advantage of knowledge is that (O)wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.
13 Consider (P)the work of God:
    (Q)who can make straight what he has made crooked?

14 (R)In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, (S)so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.

15 In my (T)vain[c] life I have seen everything. There is (U)a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who (V)prolongs his life in his evildoing. 16 Be not overly righteous, and do not (W)make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? 17 Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. (X)Why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you should take hold of (Y)this, and from (Z)that (AA)withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.

19 (AB)Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.

20 Surely (AC)there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

21 Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear (AD)your servant cursing you. 22 Your heart knows that (AE)many times you yourself have cursed others.

23 All this I have tested by wisdom. (AF)I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. 24 That which has been is far off, and (AG)deep, very deep; (AH)who can find it out?

25 (AI)I turned my heart to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness that is madness. 26 And I find something more (AJ)bitter than death: (AK)the woman whose heart is (AL)snares and nets, and whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God escapes her, but (AM)the sinner is taken by her. 27 Behold, this is what I found, says (AN)the Preacher, while adding one thing to another to find the scheme of things— 28 which my soul has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. (AO)One man among a thousand I found, but (AP)a woman among all these I have not found. 29 See, this alone I found, that (AQ)God made man upright, but (AR)they have sought out many schemes.

Keep the King's Command

Who is like the wise?
    And who knows the interpretation of a thing?
(AS)A man's wisdom makes his face shine,
    and (AT)the hardness of his face is changed.

I say:[d] Keep the king's command, because of (AU)God's oath to him.[e] Be not hasty to (AV)go from his presence. Do not take your stand in an evil cause, for he does whatever he pleases. For the word of the king is supreme, and (AW)who may say to him, “What are you doing?” Whoever keeps a command will know no evil thing, and the wise heart will know the proper time and the just way.[f] For there is a time and a way (AX)for everything, although man's trouble[g] lies heavy on him. For he (AY)does not know what is to be, for (AZ)who can tell him how it will be? No man has power to (BA)retain the spirit, (BB)or power over the day of death. There is no (BC)discharge from war, nor will wickedness deliver those who are given to it. (BD)All this I observed while applying my heart to all that is done under the sun, when man had power over man to his hurt.

Those Who Fear God Will Do Well

10 Then I saw the wicked buried. They used to go in and out of (BE)the holy place and were (BF)praised[h] in the city where they had done such things. This also is vanity.[i] 11 Because (BG)the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, (BH)the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. 12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and (BI)prolongs his life, yet I know that (BJ)it will be well with (BK)those who fear God, because they fear before him. 13 But it will (BL)not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like (BM)a shadow, because he does not fear before God.

Man Cannot Know God's Ways

14 There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people (BN)to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked people (BO)to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. 15 And I commend joy, for man (BP)has nothing better under the sun but to (BQ)eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.

16 When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see (BR)the business that is done on earth, how neither (BS)day nor night do one's eyes see sleep, 17 then I saw all the work of God, that (BT)man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, (BU)he cannot find it out.

Death Comes to All

But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, (BV)how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are (BW)in the hand of God. Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him. (BX)It is the same for all, since (BY)the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil,[j] to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who (BZ)swears is as he who shuns an oath. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that (CA)the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and (CB)madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but (CC)the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for (CD)the memory of them is forgotten. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.

Enjoy Life with the One You Love

Go, (CE)eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.

(CF)Let your garments be always white. Let not (CG)oil be lacking on your head.

Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your (CH)vain[k] life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your (CI)portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, (CJ)do it with your might,[l] (CK)for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

Wisdom Better Than Folly

11 (CL)Again I saw that under the sun (CM)the race is not to the swift, nor (CN)the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and (CO)chance (CP)happen to them all. 12 For man (CQ)does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and (CR)like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are (CS)snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.

13 I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me. 14 There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it. 15 But there was found in it (CT)a poor, wise man, and he by his (CU)wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. 16 But I say that (CV)wisdom is better than might, though (CW)the poor man's wisdom is despised and his words are not heard.

17 The words of the wise heard in (CX)quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. 18 (CY)Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but (CZ)one sinner destroys much good.

10 Dead flies make (DA)the perfumer's ointment give off a stench;
    so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
(DB)A wise man's heart inclines him to the right,
    but a fool's heart to the left.
Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense,
    and he (DC)says to everyone that he is a fool.
If the anger of the ruler rises against you, (DD)do not leave your place,
    (DE)for calmness[m] will lay great offenses to rest.

There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, as it were (DF)an error proceeding from the ruler: (DG)folly is set in many high places, and the rich sit in a low place. (DH)I have seen slaves (DI)on horses, and princes walking on the ground like slaves.

He who (DJ)digs a pit will fall into it,
    and (DK)a serpent will bite him who breaks through a wall.
(DL)He who quarries stones is hurt by them,
    and he who (DM)splits logs is endangered by them.
10 If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge,
    he must use more strength,
    but wisdom helps one to succeed.[n]
11 If the serpent bites before it is (DN)charmed,
    there is no advantage to the charmer.

12 The words of a wise man's mouth (DO)win him favor,[o]
    but (DP)the lips of a fool consume him.
13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness,
    and the end of his talk is evil madness.
14 (DQ)A fool multiplies words,
    though no man knows what is to be,
    and who can tell him (DR)what will be after him?
15 The toil of a fool wearies him,
    for he does not know (DS)the way to the city.

16 (DT)Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
    and your princes feast in the morning!
17 Happy are you, O land, when your king is the son of the nobility,
    and your princes feast at the proper time,
    for strength, and not for (DU)drunkenness!
18 Through sloth the roof sinks in,
    and through indolence the house leaks.
19 Bread is made for laughter,
    and (DV)wine gladdens life,
    and (DW)money answers everything.
20 Even in your thoughts, (DX)do not curse the king,
    nor in your (DY)bedroom curse the rich,
for a bird of the air will carry your voice,
    or some winged creature tell the matter.


  1. Ecclesiastes 7:6 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath” (see note on 1:2)
  2. Ecclesiastes 7:9 Hebrew in the bosom
  3. Ecclesiastes 7:15 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath” (see note on 1:2)
  4. Ecclesiastes 8:2 Hebrew lacks say
  5. Ecclesiastes 8:2 Or because of your oath to God
  6. Ecclesiastes 8:5 Or and judgment
  7. Ecclesiastes 8:6 Or evil
  8. Ecclesiastes 8:10 Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Vulgate; most Hebrew manuscripts forgotten
  9. Ecclesiastes 8:10 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath”; also twice in verse 14 (see note on 1:2)
  10. Ecclesiastes 9:2 Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate; Hebrew lacks and the evil
  11. Ecclesiastes 9:9 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath” (see note on 1:2)
  12. Ecclesiastes 9:10 Or finds to do with your might, do it
  13. Ecclesiastes 10:4 Hebrew healing
  14. Ecclesiastes 10:10 Or wisdom is an advantage for success
  15. Ecclesiastes 10:12 Or are gracious

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