The Vanity of Pleasure and PossessionsI said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with gladness, so that you shall see good things.” And behold, it too was vanity. 2 I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of gladness, “What does it do?” 3 I explored with my heart how to stimulate my body with wine—while my heart was guiding me wisely—and how to seize simpleminded folly, until I could see where is this good for the sons of men in what they do under heaven the few days of their lives. 4 I made my works great: I built houses for myself; I planted vineyards for myself; 5 I made for myself gardens and parks, and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; 6 I made for myself pools of water from which to water a forest of growing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and I had homeborn slaves. Also I possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. 8 Also, I collected for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male and female singers and the pleasures of the sons of men—many concubines. 9 Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me. 10 All that my eyes asked for I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any gladness, for my heart was glad because of all my labor, and this was my reward for all my labor. 11 Thus I turned to all my works which my hands had done and the labor which I had labored to do, and behold, all was vanity and striving after wind, and there was no advantage under the sun.
Wisdom Excels Folly12 So I turned to see wisdom, madness, and simpleminded folly. What will the man do who will come after the king except what has already been done? 13 And I saw that there is an advantage in wisdom over simpleminded folly as light has an advantage over darkness. 14 The wise man’s eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I know that the fate of one becomes the fate of all of them. 15 Then I said in my heart, “As is the fate of the fool, so will my fate be also. Why then have I been extremely wise?” So I said in my heart, “This too is vanity.” 16 For there is no remembrance of the wise man along with the fool forever, inasmuch as in the coming days all will be forgotten. And how the wise man dies with the fool! 17 So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is vanity and striving after wind.
The Vanity of Labor18 Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a man of simpleminded folly? Yet he will have power over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored and for which I have acted wisely under the sun. This too is vanity. 20 Therefore I turned my heart to despair of all my labor for which I had labored under the sun. 21 When there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, then he gives his portion to one who has not labored with them. This too is vanity and a great evil. 22 For what does a man get in all his labor and in the striving of his heart with which he labors under the sun? 23 Because all his days his endeavor is painful and vexing; even at night his heart does not lie down. This too is vanity. 24 There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and have his soul see good in his labor. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat and who can have enjoyment outside of Him? 26 For to a man who is good before Him, He has given wisdom and knowledge and gladness, while to the sinner He has given the endeavor of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good before God. This too is vanity and striving after wind.