And today there is a book from... the Bible, indeed the only book I can
take serious. There also is a brief endnote.
Ecclesiastes is a book from the Bible.
I do not have much admiration for the
Bible, but this book is an exception, and indeed it is an exception in
the Bible as well.
Let me first outline the reasons for Ecclesiastes being an exception
when compared to the other books that are in the Bible.
Here are a number of paragraphs from the Wikipedia article on it, with
a number of deletions, but in the order in which they are presented:
Ecclesiastes (Greek: Ἐκκλησιαστής, Ekklesiastes, Hebrew: קֹהֶלֶת, Qoheleth, Koheleth),
is a book of the Jewish Ketuvim (meaning Writings, one of the three
sections making up the Hebrew bible) and of the Old
Testament. The title is a Latin transliteration of the Greek
translation of the Hebrew Koheleth, meaning "Gatherer", but
traditionally translated as "Teacher" or "Preacher".
Koheleth introduces himself
as "son of David,
king in Jerusalem," perhaps implying that he is Solomon,
but the work is in fact anonymous and was most probably composed in the
last part of the 3rd century BC.
The book is in the form of an autobiography telling of his
investigation of the meaning of life and the best way of life.
He proclaims all the actions of man to be inherently hevel, a
word meaning "vain", "futile", "empty", "meaningless", "temporary",
"transitory", "fleeting," or "mere breath," as the lives of both wise
and foolish men end in death. While Koheleth clearly endorses wisdom as
a means for a well-lived earthly life, he is unable to ascribe eternal
meaning to it. In light of this perceived senselessness, he suggests
that one should enjoy the simple pleasures of daily life, such as
eating, drinking, and taking enjoyment in one's work, which are gifts
from the hand of God. The book concludes with words that may have been
added by a later editor disturbed by Koheleth's failure to mention
God's laws: "Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole
duty of everyone" (12:13).
Ecclesiastes is presented
autobiography of Koheleth, the Teacher. Koheleth's story is framed by
voice of the narrator, who refers to Koheleth in the third person,
praises his wisdom, but reminds the reader that wisdom has its
limitations and is not man's main concern. Koheleth reports what he
planned, did, experienced and thought. His journey to knowledge is, in
the end, incomplete, and the reader is not only to hear Koheleth's
wisdom, but to observe his journey towards understanding and acceptance
of life's frustrations and uncertainties: the journey itself is
Few of the many attempts to
underlying structure to Ecclesiastes have met with widespread
The book takes its
name from the Greek ekklesiastes, a
translation of the title by which the central figure refers to himself:
Koheleth, meaning something like "one who convenes
addresses an assembly".
(...) The author of Ecclesiastes is presently a mystery.
its literary form from the Middle Eastern tradition
of the fictional autobiography, in which a character, often a king,
relates his experiences and draws lessons from them, often
self-critical: Koheleth likewise identifies himself as a king, speaks
of his search for wisdom, relates his conclusions, and recognises his
It belongs to the category of Wisdom literature, the body of biblical
writings which give advice on how to succeed in life, together with
reflections on its problems and meanings - other examples include the Book
of Job, Proverbs, and some of the Psalms. Ecclesiastes
differs from the other biblical Wisdom books in being deeply skeptical
of the usefulness of Wisdom itself.
The presence of
Ecclesiastes in the bible is something of a puzzle, as
the common themes of the Hebrew canon - a God who reveals and redeems,
who elects and cares for a chosen people - are absent from it.
(...) "In short, we do not know why or how this book found its
way into such esteemed company".
The subject of
Ecclesiastes is the pain and frustration engendered by
observing and meditating on the distortions and inequities pervading
the world, the uselessness of human deeds, the limitations of wisdom
and righteousness; all this coexists with a firm belief in God, whose
power, justice and unpredictability are sovereign.
Next, here is the
text, taken from the Project
Gutenberg, but somewhat adjusted as regards numbering. Otherwise, the
text has not been changed, and is supposed to be the King James version
- and although that may be doubted if taken literally, it surely is
from the time that the translations were good.
The numbers within square brackets are links to my own notes, that
follow under the text.
01 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in
02 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities;
all is vanity. 
03 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under
04 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh:
but the earth abideth for ever.
05 The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to
his place where he arose.
06 The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the
north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth
again according to his circuits.
07 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto
the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return
08 All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is
not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
09 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that
which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new
thing under the sun. 
10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new?
it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there
be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that
shall come after. 
12 I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom
concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore
travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised
14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and,
behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which
is wanting cannot be numbered.
16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great
estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have
been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great
experience of wisdom and knowledge.
17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and
folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.
18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth
knowledge increaseth sorrow. 
01 I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth,
therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity. 
02 I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it?
03 I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet
acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly,
till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which
they should do under the heaven all the days of their life.
04 I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me
05 I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of
all kind of fruits:
06 I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that
bringeth forth trees:
07 I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my
house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle
above all that were in Jerusalem before me:
08 I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure
of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women
singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical
instruments, and that of all sorts.
09 So I was great, and increased more than all that were before
me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me.
10 And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I
withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in
all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour.
11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and
on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was
vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under
the sun. 
12 And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly:
for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that
which hath been already done.
13 Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light
14 The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in
darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth
to them all. 
15 Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it
happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I
said in my heart, that this also is vanity.
16 For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool
for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall
all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool.
17 Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under
the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of
18 Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun:
because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.
19 And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet
shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured,
and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is
20 Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the
labour which I took under the sun.
21 For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in
knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured
therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity
and a great evil. 
22 For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of
his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun?
23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his
heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.
24 There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and
drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his
labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.
25 For who can eat, or who else can hasten hereunto, more than I?
26 For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and
knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to
gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good
before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit. 
01 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose
under the heaven:
02 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a
time to pluck up that which is planted;
03 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and
a time to build up;
04 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a
time to dance;
05 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones
together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from
06 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time
to cast away;
07 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and
a time to speak;
08 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time
09 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? 
10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of
men to be exercised in it.
11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath
set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the
work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to
rejoice, and to do good in his life. 
13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the
good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.
14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever:
nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God
doeth it, that men should fear before him.
15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath
already been; and God requireth that which is past.
16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that
wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that
iniquity was there.
17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the
wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for
every work. 
18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men,
that God might manifest them, and that they might see that
they themselves are beasts.
19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts;
even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the
other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no
preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. 
20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to
dust again. 
21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the
spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a
man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion:
for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him? 
01 So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are
done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were
oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their
oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.
02 Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than
the living which are yet alive. 
03 Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who
hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
04 Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that
for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity
and vexation of spirit.
05 The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.
06 Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full
with travail and vexation of spirit.
07 Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun.
08 There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath
neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his
labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither
saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good?
This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.
09 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for
10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to
him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to
help him up.
11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can
one be warm alone?
12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a
threefold cord is not quickly broken. 
13 Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish
king, who will no more be admonished.
14 For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is
born in his kingdom becometh poor.
15 I considered all the living which walk under the sun, with the
second child that shall stand up in his stead.
16 There is no end of all the people, even of all that have been
before them: they also that come after shall not rejoice in
him. Surely this also is vanity and vexation of spirit.
01 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more
ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they
consider not that they do evil. 
02 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty
to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou
upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. 
03 For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a
fool's voice is known by multitude of words.
04 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he
hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.
05 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou
shouldest vow and not pay.
06 Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say
thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should
God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine
07 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also
divers vanities: but fear thou God.
08 If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent
perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not
at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest
regardeth; and there be higher than they. 
09 Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself
is served by the field.
10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor
he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.
11 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and
what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding
of them with their eyes? 
12 The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little
or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to
13 There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely,
riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.
14 But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a
son, and there is nothing in his hand. 
15 As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return
to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which
he may carry away in his hand.
16 And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came,
so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath laboured for
17 All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much
sorrow and wrath with his sickness.
18 Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one
to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour
that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which
God giveth him: for it is his portion. 
19 Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and
hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion,
and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God. 
20 For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because
God answereth him in the joy of his heart.
01 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is
common among men:
02 A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so
that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth,
yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger
eateth it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease.
03 If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so
that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled
with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an
untimely birth is better than he.
04 For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and
his name shall be covered with darkness.
05 Moreover he hath not seen the sun, nor known any thing: this
hath more rest than the other.
06 Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet hath he
seen no good: do not all go to one place?
07 All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite
is not filled. 
08 For what hath the wise more than the fool? what hath the poor,
that knoweth to walk before the living?
09 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the
desire: this is also vanity and vexation of spirit.
10 That which hath been is named already, and it is known that it
is man: neither may he contend with him that is mightier than
11 Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man
the better? 
12 For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the
days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who
can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun? 
01 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of
death than the day of one's birth. 
02 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the
house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the
living will lay it to his heart.
03 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the
countenance the heart is made better. 
04 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the
heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
05 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to
hear the song of fools.
06 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter
of the fool: this also is vanity.
07 Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth
08 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and
the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
09 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in
the bosom of fools.
10 Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were
better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning
11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit
to them that see the sun. 
12 For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the
excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them
that have it.
13 Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight,
which he hath made crooked? 
14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of
adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the
other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.
15 All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a
just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a
wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness. 
16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise:
why shouldest thou destroy thyself? 
17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why
shouldest thou die before thy time?
18 It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also
from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God
shall come forth of them all.
19 Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which
are in the city.
20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and
sinneth not. 
21 Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou
hear thy servant curse thee:
22 For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself
likewise hast cursed others.
23 All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but
it was far from me.
24 That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it
25 I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out
wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness
of folly, even of foolishness and madness:
26 And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is
snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God
shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.
27 Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by
one, to find out the account:
28 Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a
thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not
29 Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright;
but they have sought out many inventions.
01 Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of
a thing? a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the
boldness of his face shall be changed.
02 I counsel thee to keep the king's commandment, and that in
regard of the oath of God.
03 Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil
thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him.
04 Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say
unto him, What doest thou?
05 Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a
wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment. 
06 Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore
the misery of man is great upon him.
07 For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him
when it shall be?
08 There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the
spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there
is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver
those that are given to it.
09 All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work
that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man
ruleth over another to his own hurt.
10 And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the
place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where
they had so done: this is also vanity.
11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed
speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set
in them to do evil. 
12 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be
prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them
that fear God, which fear before him:
13 But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he
prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth
not before God.
14 There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be
just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the
wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth
according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also
is vanity. 
15 Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing
under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for
that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life,
which God giveth him under the sun.
16 When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the
business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that
neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:)
17 Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out
the work that is done under the sun: because though a man
labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea farther;
though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able
to find it. 
01 For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all
this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are
in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by
all that is before them.
02 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the
righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean,
and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that
sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that
sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.
03 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun,
that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the
sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart
while they live, and after that they go to the dead. 
04 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for
a living dog is better than a dead lion.
05 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not
any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory
of them is forgotten. 
06 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now
perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any
thing that is done under the sun. 
07 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a
merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.
08 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no
09 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of
the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the
sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in
this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.
10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for
there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in
the grave, whither thou goest. 
11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the
swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the
wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour
to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. 
12 For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are
taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the
snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it
falleth suddenly upon them.
13 This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed
great unto me:
14 There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came
a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great
bulwarks against it:
15 Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his
wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same
16 Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the
poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. 
17 The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of
him that ruleth among fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner
destroyeth much good. 
01 Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth
a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in
reputation for wisdom and honour.
02 A wise man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart at
his left. 
03 Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his
wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a
04 If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy
place; for yielding pacifieth great offences.
05 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error
which proceedeth from the ruler:
06 Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place. 
07 I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as
servants upon the earth.
08 He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh
an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.
09 Whoso removeth stones shall be hurt therewith; and he that
cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby.
10 If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must
he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.
11 Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a
babbler is no better.
12 The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of
a fool will swallow up himself.
13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and
the end of his talk is mischievous madness.
14 A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be;
and what shall be after him, who can tell him?
15 The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because
he knoweth not how to go to the city.
16 Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes
eat in the morning!
17 Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles,
and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for
18 By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through
idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.
19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money
answereth all things.
20 Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the
rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the
voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.
01 Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after
02 Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest
not what evil shall be upon the earth.
03 If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the
earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the
north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.
04 He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that
regardeth the clouds shall not reap.
05 As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the
bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so
thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.
06 In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not
thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either
this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.
07 Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the
eyes to behold the sun:
08 But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let
him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All
that cometh is vanity.
09 Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer
thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine
heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for
all these things God will bring thee into judgment.
10 Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from
thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.
01 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the
evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt
say, I have no pleasure in them;
02 While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not
darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:
03 In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and
the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease
because they are few, and those that look out of the windows
04 And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of
the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the
bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low;
05 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and
fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish,
and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail:
because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about
06 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be
broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel
broken at the cistern.
07 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the
spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
08 Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.
09 And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught
the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out,
and set in order many proverbs.
10 The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that
which was written was upright, even words of truth.
11 The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by
the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.
12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many
books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and
keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every
secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
The above is the text, and nearly all of the rest consists of my notes.
 The term "vanity" is one of quite a few terms that might have
been used here, as was explained in the notes I quoted.
 Actually, that is not quite so: There are some changes.
 Again: Actually, that is not quite so: There are some memories.
 No, that does not seem to me to be quite correct: Surely, some
knowledge need to be grievous. But then this leads up to the next verse:
 This is also not quite correct: Mirth and pleasure may be vanity,
but surely mirth and pleasure are ends men desire, and their denials are
ends men do not desire.
 Again something that goes against the rule that all men feel: That
mirth and pleasure, even if vain, feel better than their denials.
 Put otherwise: Wisdom is no protection against pain and displeasure.
 This also is a negative exaggeration.
 But why?
 Again: why? If indeed all are equally blessed or cursed, then let
all be equally blessed or cursed, but do not make exceptions. Then again,
the problems are that not all are equally blessed or cursed, and that indeed
the fools may have a better life than the wise.
 Surely some profit, meagre and too little as it very well may be.
 But then everything is all right?!
 Actually, one problem there is, is that there is not a time for
very work to be fairly judged, or to be judged at all - or does it would
 Why would a man have not pre-eminence amongst beasts? Or why would
this matter if he has?
 OK: Suppose that is true - that is, suppose in the end all men will
be forgotten, if not immediately after their own death, than fairly
soon after it. So what?
 With this I agree.
 This is too pessimistic: Surely, this is the judgment of each man
by himself, and other men may judge differently. Then again, there is the
judgment - Greek - that it is best not to be born at all. This may be so
(or not, depending on one's judgment), but surely those who never live
never judge either.
 This is doubtful: That the more the merrier.
 This I fail to understand.
 Surely, that depends a lot on who you are.
 Yes, but the higher are not necessarily better.
 No, clearly the good that things uneaten may do is not merely for
"saving the beholding of them with their eyes?
 Then again, sometimes - more often than not, one would guess -
this is not so.
 Surely, that is rather a lot of good.
 As under .
 Or sometimes it is: This varies a lot.
 Wrong question, or at least wrong assumption: Isn't it a
matter of the proportion of (things that increase vanity : things
that do not increase vanity)?
 Wrong question again: The problem is not what a man will produce
after he is dead, nor whether any many knows what is good. The problem is
whether the life one has is good by such standards as one has - and surely
there are a lot of different lives and different standards.
 Surely, again a matter of taste.
 No, I do not think so: I do not think man is built for sorrow.
 Surely wisdom is also good without an inheritance?
 That is a good question: How do you know that what you disapprove of
was not necessary, e.g. for the things you approve of?
 And that is a real problem: That the bad or the indifferent prosper,
while the wise perish. This is also true upon any definition. Even so, it
would seem as if the wise on average are better of than the wicked, and
that the times this is not so will be brief.
 Hm. It is good advice, but not something one can choose. What one
can choose is what one utters.
 But that is hardly relevant: All sin, but some considerably more
 Well... that seems to me to be both too pessimistic in general,
and too pessimistic about women.
 No, that - "Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing"
- makes it much too easy.
 Yes, indeed: The wicked may profit, and the good may suffer, and
this may last a lifetime.
 One wonders whether "vanity" is the right word here. Is this not
much rather injustice?
 That again is hardly relevant.
 There surely are bad man, but then again that is not very relevant,
mostly because that is a given anyway, however defined.
 Well, the dead anyway are without reward or punishment: They have
 Actually, that is a mistake: One may be totally forgotten, but
one's works may continue.
 Yes, and indeed this is also quite unchristian:That there does
not seem to be a reward or punishment in a life after death.
 True, and that is one of the reasons why morals exist: That much
is not as one expects, desires, hopes, and strives for.
 Also true, though a sign of hope: Many men may be very bad, but
the average man is neither good nor bad.
 Which means that there are very few wise men. This I much doubt:
It seems much more likely this has a normal distribution.
 That may happen, but - see the previous note - the standard is
that those who rule are indifferent, rather than positively bad.
 Actually, the original text may have finished at 08. But then
that is unknown.
Endnote: Why did I include this? Basically, because I am a philosopher, and
this is one of the few books of more or less serious philosophy from the Bible.
My reason to put it now and here is mainly that I wrote the comments today and
that I do not see any reason not to do so.
Then there is one remaining remark that I should make: This is an interesting
text, but it is not real philosophy when compared with e.g. Plato or Aristotle, who
wrote around the same time.
And that is not so much a criticism, as a comparison: The writer of the above,
while clearly being a clever man, had not had the chances Plato and Aristotle did
Finally... here is a link to the original.
(that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate
search machines) which
is a disease I have since 1.1.1979: