Amplified Bible

Ecclesiastes 1

The Futility of All Endeavors

1The 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.

Notas al pie

  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.

The Message

Ecclesiastes 1

The Quester

1These are the words of the Quester, David’s son and king in Jerusalem

2-11 Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That’s what the Quester says.]
    There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke.
What’s there to show for a lifetime of work,
    a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone?
One generation goes its way, the next one arrives,
    but nothing changes—it’s business as usual for old
        planet earth.
The sun comes up and the sun goes down,
    then does it again, and again—the same old round.
The wind blows south, the wind blows north.
    Around and around and around it blows,
    blowing this way, then that—the whirling, erratic wind.
All the rivers flow into the sea,
    but the sea never fills up.
The rivers keep flowing to the same old place,
    and then start all over and do it again.
Everything’s boring, utterly boring—
    no one can find any meaning in it.
Boring to the eye,
    boring to the ear.
What was will be again,
    what happened will happen again.
There’s nothing new on this earth.
    Year after year it’s the same old thing.
Does someone call out, “Hey, this is new”?
    Don’t get excited—it’s the same old story.
Nobody remembers what happened yesterday.
    And the things that will happen tomorrow?
Nobody’ll remember them either.
    Don’t count on being remembered.

I’ve Seen It All

12-14 Call me “the Quester.” I’ve been king over Israel in Jerusalem. I looked most carefully into everything, searched out all that is done on this earth. And let me tell you, there’s not much to write home about. God hasn’t made it easy for us. I’ve seen it all and it’s nothing but smoke—smoke, and spitting into the wind.

15 Life’s a corkscrew that can’t be straightened,
A minus that won’t add up.

16-17 I said to myself, “I know more and I’m wiser than anyone before me in Jerusalem. I’ve stockpiled wisdom and knowledge.” What I’ve finally concluded is that so-called wisdom and knowledge are mindless and witless—nothing but spitting into the wind.

18 Much learning earns you much trouble.
The more you know, the more you hurt.