Everything Is Futile
These are the words of the Teacher,* the son of David, king in Jerusalem:
Futility of futilities,”
says the Teacher,
futility of futilities!
Everything is futile!”
What does a man gain from all his labor,
at which he toils under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets;
it hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows southward,
then turns northward;
round and round it swirls,
ever returning on its course.
All the rivers flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full;
to the place from which the streams come,
there again they flow.
All things are wearisome,
more than one can describe;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear content with hearing.
What has been will be again,
and what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a case where one can say,
Look, this is new”?
It has already existed
in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance
of those who came before,
and those yet to come will not be remembered
by those who follow after.
With Wisdom Comes Sorrow
12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid upon the sons of men to occupy them!
14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun, and have found them all to be futile, a pursuit of the wind.
15 What is crooked cannot be straightened,
and what is lacking cannot be counted.
16 I said to myself, “Behold, I have grown and increased in wisdom beyond all those before me who were over Jerusalem, and my mind has observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.”
17 So I set my mind to know wisdom and madness and folly; I learned that this, too, is a pursuit of the wind.
18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow,
and as knowledge grows, grief increases.
* 1:1 Or the Convener or the Preacher or the leader of the assembly; Hebrew Qoheleth is rendered as the Teacher throughout Ecclesiastes. 1:2 Literally vapor or breath; the Hebrew words translated in Ecclesiastes as forms of futile or fleeting can also be translated as vanity or meaningless.