The Vanity of Wisdom

12 I (A)the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I (B)applied my heart[a] to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy (C)business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is (D)vanity[b] and a striving after wind.[c]

15 (E)What is crooked cannot be made straight,
    and what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I said in my heart, “I have acquired great (F)wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I (G)applied my heart to know wisdom and to know (H)madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but (I)a striving after wind.

18 For (J)in much wisdom is much vexation,
    and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

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Footnotes

  1. Ecclesiastes 1:13 The Hebrew term denotes the center of one's inner life, including mind, will, and emotions
  2. Ecclesiastes 1:14 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath” (see note on 1:2)
  3. Ecclesiastes 1:14 Or a feeding on wind; compare Hosea 12:1 (also in Ecclesiastes 1:17; 2:11, 17, 26; 4:4, 6, 16; 6:9)

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