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Ecclesiastes 2 Darby Translation (DARBY)

I said in my heart, Come now, I will try thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure. But behold, this also is vanity.

I said of laughter, Madness! and of mirth, What availeth it?

I searched in my heart how to cherish my flesh with wine, while practising my heart with wisdom; and how to lay hold on folly, till I should see what was that good for the children of men which they should do under the heavens all the days of their life.

I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards;

I made me gardens and parks, and I planted trees in them of every kind of fruit;

I made me ponds of water, to water therewith the wood, where the trees are reared.

I acquired servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of herds and flocks, above all that had been in Jerusalem before me.

I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces; I got me men-singers and women-singers, and the delights of the children of men, a wife and concubines.

And I became great, and increased more than all that had been 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 from all my labour.

11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that it had cost me to do [them]; and behold, all was vanity and pursuit of the wind, and there was no profit under the sun.

12 And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly; for what shall the man [do] that cometh after the king?—that which hath already been done.

13 And I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as light excelleth darkness.

14 The wise man's eyes are in his head, and the fool walketh in darkness; but I myself also perceived that one event happeneth to them all.

15 And I said in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool so will it happen even to me; and why was I then so wise? Then I said in my heart that this also is vanity.

16 For there shall be no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; because everything is already forgotten in the days which come. And how dieth the wise even as the fool?

17 And I hated life; for the work that is wrought under the sun was grievous unto me; for all is vanity and pursuit of the wind.

18 And I hated all my labour wherewith I had been toiling under the sun, because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.

19 And who knoweth whether he will be a wise [man] or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour at which I have laboured, and wherein I have been wise under the sun. This also is vanity.

20 Then I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour wherewith I had laboured under the sun.

21 For there is a man whose labour hath been with wisdom, and with knowledge, and with skill, and who leaveth it to a man that hath not laboured therein, to be his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

22 For what will man have of all his labour and of the striving of his heart, wherewith he hath wearied himself under the sun?

23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail vexation: even in the night his heart taketh no rest. This also is vanity.

24 There is nothing good for man, but 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 be eager, more than I?

26 For he 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 in God's sight. This also is vanity and pursuit of the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2 New International Version (NIV)

Pleasures Are Meaningless

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.

I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem[a] as well—the delights of a man’s heart. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.

10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
    I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
    and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
    and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
    nothing was gained under the sun.

Wisdom and Folly Are Meaningless

12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,
    and also madness and folly.
What more can the king’s successor do
    than what has already been done?
13 I saw that wisdom is better than folly,
    just as light is better than darkness.
14 The wise have eyes in their heads,
    while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize
    that the same fate overtakes them both.

15 Then I said to myself,

“The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
    What then do I gain by being wise?”
I said to myself,
    “This too is meaningless.”
16 For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
    the days have already come when both have been forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise too must die!

Toil Is Meaningless

17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23 All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.

24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 2:8 The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
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.

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