The words of the Teacher,A,a son of David, king in Jerusalem.b

“Absolute futility,” says the Teacher.

“Absolute futility. Everything is futile.”c

What does a person gain for all his efforts

that he labors at under the sun?d

A generation goes and a generation comes,

but the earth remains forever.e

The sun rises and the sun sets;

panting, it hurries back to the placef

where it rises.

Gusting to the south,

turning to the north,

turning, turning, goes the wind,g

and the wind returns in its cycles.

All the streams flow to the sea,

yet the sea is never full;

to the place where the streams flow,

there they flow again.

All thingsB are wearisome,

more than anyone can say.

The eye is not satisfied by seeingh

or the ear filled with hearing.

What has been is what will be,

and what has been done is what will be done;

there is nothing new under the sun.

10 Can one say about anything,

“Look, this is new”?

It has already existed in the ages before us.

11 There is no remembrance of those whoC came before;i

and of those who will come after

there will also be no remembrance

by those who follow them.


12 I, the Teacher,j have beenD king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to examinek and explore through wisdom all that is done under heaven.l God has given peopleE this miserable task to keep them occupied.m 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun and have found everything to be futile, a pursuit of the wind.* n

15 What is crooked cannot be straightened;o

what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I said to myself, “See, I have amassed wisdom far beyond all those who were over Jerusalem before me,p and my mind has thoroughly graspedG wisdom and knowledge.” 17 I applied my mind to know wisdom and knowledge,q madness and folly;r I learned that this too is a pursuit of the wind.s

18 For with much wisdom is much sorrow;t

as knowledge increases, grief increases.


I said to myself, “Go ahead, I will test you with pleasure;u enjoy what is good.” But it turned out to be futile. I said about laughter,v “It is madness,” and about pleasure, “What does this accomplish?” I explored with my mind the pull of winew on my body—my mind still guiding me with wisdom—and how to grasp folly,x until I could see what is good for people to do under heavenH during the few days of their lives.y


I increased my achievements. I built housesz and planted vineyardsaa for myself. I made gardensab and parks for myself and planted every kind of fruit tree in them. I constructed reservoirs for myself from which to irrigate a grove of flourishing trees.ac I acquired male and female servants and had slaves who were born in my house.ad I also owned livestock—large herds and flocks—more than all who were before me in Jerusalem.ae I also amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces.af I gathered male and female singers for myself,ag and many concubines, the delights of men.A,B So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem;a my wisdom also remained with me. 10 All that my eyes desired, I did not deny them.b I did not refuse myself any pleasure, for I took pleasure in all my struggles. This was my reward for all my struggles.c 11 When I considered all that I had accomplishedC and what I had labored to achieve, I found everything to be futile and a pursuit of the wind.* d There was nothing to be gained under the sun.e


12 Then I turned to consider wisdom,f madness, and folly, for what will the king’s successorE be like? HeF will do what has already been done.g 13 And I realized that there is an advantage to wisdom over folly, like the advantage of light over darkness.h

14 The wise person has eyes in his head,

but the fool walks in darkness.i

Yet I also knew that one fate comes to them both.j 15 So I said to myself, “What happens to the fool will also happen to me. Why then have I been overly wise?”k And I said to myself that this is also futile. 16 For, just like the fool, there is no lasting remembrance of the wise,l since in the days to come both will be forgotten. How is it that the wise person dies just like the fool? 17 Therefore, I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me. For everything is futile and a pursuit of the wind.


18 I hated all my work that I labored at under the sunm because I must leave it to the one who comes after me.n 19 And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool?o Yet he will take over all my work that I labored at skillfully under the sun. This too is futile. 20 So I began to give myself overG to despair concerning all my work that I had labored at under the sun. 21 When there is a person whose work was done with wisdom, knowledge, and skill,p and he must give his portion to a person who has not worked for it, this too is futile and a great wrong. 22 For what does a person get with all his work and all his effortsq that he labors at under the sun? 23 For all his days are filled with grief, and his occupation is sorrowful;r even at night, his mind does not rest.s This too is futile.

24 There is nothing better for a person than to eat, drink, and enjoyH,I his work.t I have seen that even this is from God’s hand,u 25 because who can eat and who can enjoy lifeJ apart from him?K 26 For to the person who is pleasing in his sight, he gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy;v but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and accumulating in order to give to the one who is pleasing in God’s sight.w This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.x


There is an occasion for everything,

and a time for every activity under heaven:y

a time to give birth and a time to die;z

a time to plant and a time to uproot;L

a time to kill and a time to heal;

a time to tear down and a time to build;

a time to weep and a time to laugh;aa

a time to mourn and a time to dance;ab

a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;ac

a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing;ad

a time to search and a time to count as lost;

a time to keep and a time to throw away;

a time to tear and a time to sew;

a time to be silent and a time to speak;ae

a time to love and a time to hate;

a time for war and a time for peace.af

What does the worker gain from his struggles?ag 10 I have seen the task that God has given the children of Adam to keep them occupied.ah 11 He has made everything appropriateM in its time.ai He has also put eternity in their hearts,N but no one can discover the work God has done from beginning to end.aj 12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy theA good life. 13 It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts.a 14 I know that everything God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it.b God works so that people will be in awe of him.c 15 Whatever is, has already been,d and whatever will be, already is. However, God seeks justice for the persecuted.B


16 I also observed under the sun: there is wickedness at the place of judgment and there is wickedness at the place of righteousness.e 17 I said to myself, “God will judge the righteous and the wicked,f since there is a time for every activity and every work.”g 18 I said to myself, “This happens so that God may test the children of Adam and they may see for themselves that they are like animals.”h 19 For the fate of the children of Adam and the fate of animals is the same.i As one dies, so dies the other; they all have the same breath. People have no advantage over animals since everything is futile. 20 All are going to the same place; all come from dust, and all return to dust.j 21 Who knows if the spirits of the children of Adam go upward and the spirits of animals go downward to the earth? 22 I have seen that there is nothing better than for a person to enjoy his activitiesk because that is his reward. For who can enable him to see what will happen after he dies?C,l

Again, I observed all the acts of oppression being done under the sun.m Look at the tears of those who are oppressed; they have no one to comfort them. Power is with those who oppress them; they have no one to comfort them. So I commended the dead,n who have already died, more than the living, who are still alive. But better than either of them is the one who has not yet existed,o who has not seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.


I saw that all labor and all skillful work is due to one person’s jealousy of another.p This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.* q

The fool folds his armsr

and consumes his own flesh.s

Better one handful with rest

than two handfuls with effort and a pursuit of the wind.t

Again, I saw futility under the sun: There is a person without a companion,E without even a son or brother, and though there is no end to all his struggles, his eyes are still not content with riches.u “Who am I struggling for,” he asks, “and depriving myself of good things?” This too is futile and a miserable task.

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. 10 For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm?v 12 And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

13 Better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer pays attention to warnings.w 14 For he came from prison to be king,x even though he was born poor in his kingdom. 15 I saw all the living, who move about under the sun, followF a second youth who succeeds him. 16 There is no limit to all the people who were before them, yet those

Read more Explain verse

A service of Logos Bible Software