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A Disillusioned View of Life

A good name is better than precious ointment,
    and the day of death, than the day of birth.(A)
It is better to go to the house of mourning
    than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of everyone,
    and the living will lay it to heart.(B)
Sorrow is better than laughter,
    for by sadness of countenance the heart is made glad.(C)
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
    but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise
    than to hear the song of fools.(D)
For like the crackling of thorns under a pot,
    so is the laughter of fools;
    this also is vanity.
Surely oppression makes the wise foolish,
    and a bribe corrupts the heart.(E)
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning;
    the patient in spirit are better than the proud in spirit.(F)
Do not be quick to anger,
    for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.(G)
10 Do not say, “Why were the former days better than these?”
    For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
11 Wisdom is as good as an inheritance,
    an advantage to those who see the sun.(H)
12 For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money,
    and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to the one who possesses it.
13 Consider the work of God;
    who can make straight what he has made crooked?(I)

14 In the day of prosperity, be joyful, and in the day of adversity, consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that mortals may not find out anything that comes after them.(J)

The Riddles of Life

15 In my vain life I have seen everything; there are righteous people who perish in their righteousness, and there are wicked people who prolong their life in their evildoing.(K) 16 Do not be too righteous, and do not act too wise; why should you destroy yourself?(L) 17 Do not be too wicked, and do not be a fool; why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you should take hold of the one without letting go of the other, for the one who fears God shall succeed with both.

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

20 Surely there is no one on earth so righteous as to do good without ever sinning.(N)

21 Do not give heed to everything that people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you; 22 your heart knows that many times you have yourself cursed others.

23 All this I have tested by wisdom; I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me.(O) 24 That which is, is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out?(P) 25 I turned my mind to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the sum of things and to know that wickedness is folly and that foolishness is madness.(Q) 26 I found more bitter than death the woman who is a trap, whose heart is nets, whose hands are fetters; one who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her.(R) 27 See, this is what I found, says the Teacher, adding one thing to another to find the sum,(S) 28 which my mind has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found, but a woman among all these I have not found. 29 See, this alone I found, that God made human beings straightforward, but they have devised many schemes.(T)

Obey the King and Enjoy Yourself

Who is like the wise man?
    And who knows the interpretation of a thing?
Being wise makes one’s face shine,
    but arrogance changes one’s face.(U)

Keep[a] the king’s command, and because of your sacred oath(V) do not be terrified; go from his presence; do not delay when the matter is unpleasant, for he does whatever he pleases. For the word of the king is powerful, and who can say to him, “What are you doing?”(W) Whoever obeys a command will meet no harm, and the wise mind will know the time and way. For every matter has its time and way, although the troubles of mortals lie heavy upon them.(X) Indeed, they do not know what is to be, for who can tell them how it will be?(Y) No one has power over the wind[b] to restrain the wind[c] or power over the day of death; there is no discharge from the battle, nor does wickedness deliver those who practice it.(Z) All this I observed, applying my mind to all that is done under the sun, while one person exercises authority over another to the other’s hurt.(AA)

God’s Ways Are Inscrutable

10 Then I saw the wicked approaching to sacrifice;[d] they go in and out of the holy place, and they boast[e] in the city that they have done such things. This also is vanity. 11 Because sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the human heart is fully set to do evil. 12 Though sinners do evil a hundred times and prolong their lives, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they stand in fear before him,(AB) 13 but it will not be well with the wicked, neither will they prolong their days like a shadow, because they do not stand in fear before God.(AC)

14 There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people who are treated according to the conduct of the wicked and wicked people who are treated according to the conduct of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity.(AD) 15 So I commend enjoyment, for there is nothing better for people under the sun than to eat and drink and enjoy themselves, for this will go with them in their toil through the days of life that God gives them under the sun.(AE)

16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to see the business that is done on earth, how one’s eyes see sleep neither day nor night, 17 then I saw all the work of God, that no one can find out what is happening under the sun. However much they may toil in seeking, they will not find it out; even though those who are wise claim to know, they cannot find it out.(AF)

Take Life as It Comes

All this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God; whether it is love or hate one does not know. Everything that confronts them is vanity,[f] since the same fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil,[g] to the clean and the unclean, to those who sacrifice and those who do not sacrifice. As are the good, so are the sinners; those who swear are like those who shun an oath.(AG) This is an evil in all that happens under the sun, that the same fate comes to everyone. Moreover, the hearts of humans are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.(AH) But whoever is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no more reward, and even the memory of them is lost.(AI) Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished; never again will they have any share in all that happens under the sun.(AJ)

Go, eat your bread with enjoyment and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has long ago approved what you do.(AK) Let your garments always be white; do not let oil be lacking on your head.(AL) Enjoy life with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life that are given you under the sun,[h] because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.(AM) 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.(AN)

11 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful, but time and chance happen to them all.(AO) 12 For no one can anticipate one’s time. Like fish taken in a cruel net or like birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it suddenly falls upon them.(AP)

Wisdom Superior to Folly

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 people in it. A great king came against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it. 15 Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man.(AQ) 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than might; yet the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heeded.”(AR)

17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
    than the shouting of a ruler among fools.(AS)
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
    but one bungler destroys much good.(AT)


  1. 8.2 Heb I keep
  2. 8.8 Or breath
  3. 8.8 Or breath
  4. 8.10 Cn: Heb buried
  5. 8.10 Gk: Heb they were forgotten
  6. 9.2 Syr Compare Gk: Heb Everything that confronts them is everything
  7. 9.2 Gk Syr Vg: Heb lacks and the evil
  8. 9.9 Cn: Heb sun, all the days of your vanity