Enjoy Life Despite Death

Indeed, I took all this to heart and explained it all: The righteous, the wise, and their works are in God’s hands.(A) People don’t know whether to expect love or hate. Everything lies ahead of them. Everything is the same for everyone:(B) There is one fate for the righteous and the wicked,(C) for the good and the bad,[a] for the clean and the unclean, for the one who sacrifices and the one who does not sacrifice. As it is for the good, so also it is for the sinner; as it is for the one who takes an oath, so also for the one who fears an oath. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: there is one fate for everyone. In addition, the hearts of people are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live;(D) after that they go to the dead. But there is hope for whoever is joined[b] with all the living, since a live dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but the dead don’t know anything. There is no longer a reward for them because the memory of them is forgotten.(E) Their love, their hate, and their envy have already disappeared, and there is no longer a portion for them in all that is done under the sun.

Go, eat your bread with pleasure, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for God has already accepted your works.(F) Let your clothes be white all the time, and never let oil be lacking on your head.(G) Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting[c] life,(H) which has been given to you under the sun, all your fleeting days. For that is your portion in life and in your struggle(I) under the sun. 10 Whatever your hands find to do, do with all your strength,(J) because there is no work, planning, knowledge, or wisdom(K) in Sheol where you are going.

The Limitations of Wisdom

11 Again I saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift,(L) or the battle to the strong,(M) or bread to the wise, or riches to the discerning, or favor to the skillful; rather, time and chance happen to all of them. 12 For certainly no one knows his time:(N) like fish caught in a cruel net or like birds caught in a trap,(O) so people are trapped in an evil time(P) as it suddenly falls on them.(Q)

13 I have observed that this also is wisdom under the sun, and it is significant to me: 14 There was a small city with few men in it. A great king came against it, surrounded it, and built large siege works against it. 15 Now a poor wise man was found in the city,(R) and he delivered the city by his wisdom.(S) Yet no one remembered that poor man. 16 And I said, “Wisdom is better than strength,(T) but the wisdom of the poor man is despised, and his words are not heeded.”

17 The calm words of the wise are heeded
more than the shouts of a ruler over fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
but one sinner can destroy much good.(U)

The Burden of Folly

10 Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil ferment and stink;(V)
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
A wise person’s heart goes to the[d] right,
but a fool’s heart to the left.
Even when the fool walks along the road, his heart lacks sense,
and he shows everyone he is a fool.(W)
If the ruler’s anger rises against you, don’t leave your post,(X)
for calmness puts great offenses to rest.(Y)

There is an evil I have seen under the sun, an error proceeding from the presence of the ruler:

The fool is appointed to great heights,(Z)
but the rich remain in lowly positions.
I have seen slaves on horses,(AA)
but princes walking on the ground like slaves.(AB)

The one who digs a pit may fall into it,(AC)
and the one who breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake.(AD)
The one who quarries stones may be hurt by them;
the one who splits logs may be endangered by them.
10 If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen its edge,
then one must exert more strength;
however, the advantage of wisdom is that it brings success.
11 If the snake bites before it is charmed,(AE)
then there is no advantage for the charmer.[e]
12 The words from the mouth of a wise person are gracious,(AF)
but the lips of a fool consume him.(AG)
13 The beginning of the words from his mouth is folly,
but the end of his speaking is evil madness;
14 yet the fool multiplies words.
No one knows what will happen,
and who can tell anyone what will happen after him?(AH)
15 The struggles of fools weary them,
for they don’t know how to go to the city.
16 Woe to you, land, when your king is a youth(AI)
and your princes feast in the morning.
17 Blessed are you, land, when your king is a son of nobles
and your princes feast at the proper time—
for strength and not for drunkenness.(AJ)
18 Because of laziness the roof caves in,
and because of negligent hands the house leaks.
19 A feast is prepared for laughter,
and wine makes life happy,(AK)
and money[f] is the answer for everything.(AL)
20 Do not curse the king even in your thoughts,(AM)
and do not curse a rich person even in your bedroom,(AN)
for a bird of the sky may carry the message,
and a winged creature may report the matter.


  1. 9:2 LXX, Aq, Syr, Vg; MT omits and the bad
  2. 9:4 Alt Hb tradition reads chosen
  3. 9:9 Or futile
  4. 10:2 Lit his
  5. 10:11 Lit master of the tongue
  6. 10:19 Lit silver

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