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Ecclesiastes 1 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Vanity of Life

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

“Vanity[a] of vanities,” says the Preacher;
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

What profit has a man from all his labor
In which he [b]toils under the sun?
One generation passes away, and another generation comes;
But the earth abides forever.
The sun also rises, and the sun goes down,
And [c]hastens to the place where it arose.
The wind goes toward the south,
And turns around to the north;
The wind whirls about continually,
And comes again on its circuit.
All the rivers run into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full;
To the place from which the rivers come,
There they return again.
All things are [d]full of labor;
Man cannot express it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor the ear filled with hearing.

That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which it may be said,
“See, this is new”?
It has already been in ancient times before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,
Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come
By those who will come after.

The Grief of Wisdom

12 I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be [e]exercised. 14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.

15 What is crooked cannot be made straight,
And what is lacking cannot be numbered.

16 I communed with my heart, saying, “Look, I have attained greatness, and have gained more wisdom than all who were before me in Jerusalem. My heart has [f]understood great wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind.

18 For in much wisdom is much grief,
And he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 1:2 Or Absurdity, Frustration, Futility, Nonsense; and so throughout the book
  2. Ecclesiastes 1:3 labors
  3. Ecclesiastes 1:5 Is eager for, lit. panting
  4. Ecclesiastes 1:8 wearisome
  5. Ecclesiastes 1:13 Or afflicted
  6. Ecclesiastes 1:16 Lit. seen
New King James Version (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Ecclesiastes 1 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Futility of All Endeavors

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Futility of futilities,” says the Preacher,
“Futility of futilities! All is futility.”

What advantage does a person have in all his work
Which he does under the sun?
A generation goes and a generation comes,
But the earth [a]remains forever.
Also, the sun rises and the sun sets;
And [b]hurrying to its place it rises there again.
[c]Blowing toward the south,
Then turning toward the north,
The wind continues [d]swirling along;
And on its circular courses the wind returns.
All the rivers [e]flow into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full.
To the place where the rivers [f]flow,
There they [g]flow again.
All things are wearisome;
No one can tell it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor is the ear filled with hearing.
What has been, it is what will be,
And what has been done, it is what will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one might say,
“See this, it is new”?
It has already existed for ages
Which were before us.
11 There is no remembrance of the [h]earlier things,
And of the later things as well, which will occur,
There will be no remembrance of them
Among those who will come later still.

The Futility of Wisdom

12 I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I set my [i]mind to seek and explore by wisdom about everything that has been done under heaven. It is a [j]sorry task with which God has given the sons of mankind to be troubled. 14 I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is futility and striving after wind. 15 What is crooked cannot be straightened, and what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I [k]said to myself, “Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my [l]mind has observed [m]a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I applied my [n]mind to know wisdom and to know insanity and foolishness; I realized that this also is striving after wind. 18 Because in much wisdom there is much grief; and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 1:4 Lit stands
  2. Ecclesiastes 1:5 Lit panting
  3. Ecclesiastes 1:6 Lit Going
  4. Ecclesiastes 1:6 Lit turning
  5. Ecclesiastes 1:7 Lit go
  6. Ecclesiastes 1:7 Lit go
  7. Ecclesiastes 1:7 Lit go
  8. Ecclesiastes 1:11 Lit first; or former
  9. Ecclesiastes 1:13 Lit heart
  10. Ecclesiastes 1:13 Lit evil
  11. Ecclesiastes 1:16 Lit spoke with my heart, saying
  12. Ecclesiastes 1:16 Lit heart
  13. Ecclesiastes 1:16 Lit an abundance
  14. Ecclesiastes 1:17 Lit heart
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved.

Ecclesiastes 1 Amplified Bible (AMP)

The Futility of All Endeavors

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.


“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher.
“Vanity of vanities! All [that is done without God’s guidance] is vanity [futile, meaningless—a wisp of smoke, a vapor that vanishes, merely chasing the wind].”


What advantage does man have from all his work
Which he does [a]under the sun (while earthbound)?

One generation goes and another generation comes,
But the earth remains forever.

Also, the sun rises and the sun sets;
And hurries to the place where it rises again.

The wind blows toward the south,
Then circles toward the north;
The wind circles and swirls endlessly,
And on its circular course the wind returns.

All the rivers flow into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full.
To the place where the rivers flow,
There they flow again.

All things are wearisome and all words are frail;
Man cannot express it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor is the ear filled with hearing.

That which has been is that which will be [again],
And that which has been done is that which will be done again.
So there is nothing new under the sun.
10 
Is there anything of which it can be said,
“See this, it is new”?
It has already existed for [the vast] ages [of time recorded or unrecorded]
Which were before us.
11 
There is no remembrance of earlier things,
Nor also of the later things that are to come;
There will be for them no remembrance
By generations who will come after them.

The Futility of Wisdom

12 I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I set my mind to seek and explore by [man’s] [b]wisdom all [human activity] that has been done under heaven. It is a miserable business and a burdensome task which [c]God has given the sons of men with which to be busy and distressed. 14 I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity, a futile grasping and chasing after the wind. 15 What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is defective and lacking cannot be counted.

16 I spoke with my heart, saying, “Behold, I have acquired great [human] wisdom and experience, more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has observed a wealth of [moral] wisdom and [scientific] knowledge.” 17 And I set my mind to know [practical] wisdom and to discern [the character of] madness and folly [in which men seem to find satisfaction]; I realized that this too is a futile grasping and chasing after the wind. 18 For in much [human] wisdom there is much displeasure and exasperation; increasing knowledge increases sorrow.

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 1:3 Ecclesiastes expresses the view of the natural man whose interests are focused on vanishing pleasures and empty satisfactions. The natural man is not aware that all the answers to life are found in God. The natural man grovels in the earth and seeks and finds that which is futile and temporary while the spiritual man soars on wings of eagles (Is 40:31) and seeks and finds righteousness and God’s incomparable and everlasting blessings and companionship.
  2. Ecclesiastes 1:13 The “wisdom” of Proverbs is not the “wisdom” of Ecclesiastes. The former is godly wisdom; the latter is usually human wisdom.
  3. Ecclesiastes 1:13 Heb Elohim: mighty, creator, ruler of man and nature.
Amplified Bible (AMP)

Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Ecclesiastes 1 New International Version (NIV)

Everything Is Meaningless

The words of the Teacher,[a] son of David, king in Jerusalem:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their labors
    at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
    and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
    ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
    yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
    there they return again.
All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
    and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.

Wisdom Is Meaningless

12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

15 What is crooked cannot be straightened;
    what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.

18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
    the more knowledge, the more grief.

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 1:1 Or the leader of the assembly; also in verses 2 and 12
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Ecclesiastes 1 King James Version (KJV)

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.

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.

All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

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 therewith.

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.

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