New International Version

Ecclesiastes 1:1-18

Everything Is Meaningless

1The words of the Teacher,1:1 Or the leader of the assembly; also in verses 2 and 12 son of David, king in Jerusalem:

2“Meaningless! Meaningless!”

says the Teacher.

“Utterly meaningless!

Everything is meaningless.”

3What do people gain from all their labors

at which they toil under the sun?

4Generations come and generations go,

but the earth remains forever.

5The sun rises and the sun sets,

and hurries back to where it rises.

6The wind blows to the south

and turns to the north;

round and round it goes,

ever returning on its course.

7All streams flow into the sea,

yet the sea is never full.

To the place the streams come from,

there they return again.

8All things are wearisome,

more than one can say.

The eye never has enough of seeing,

nor the ear its fill of hearing.

9What has been will be again,

what has been done will be done again;

there is nothing new under the sun.

10Is there anything of which one can say,

“Look! This is something new”?

It was here already, long ago;

it was here before our time.

11No one remembers the former generations,

and even those yet to come

will not be remembered

by those who follow them.

Wisdom Is Meaningless

12I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13I 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! 14I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

15What is crooked cannot be straightened;

what is lacking cannot be counted.

16I 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.” 17Then 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.

18For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;

the more knowledge, the more grief.

New International Reader's Version

Ecclesiastes 1:1-18

Everything Is Meaningless

1These are the words of the Teacher. He was the son of David. He was also the king in Jerusalem.

2“Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!”

says the Teacher.

“Everything is completely meaningless!

Nothing has any meaning.”

3What do people get for all their work?

Why do they work so hard on this earth?

4People come and people go.

But the earth remains forever.

5The sun rises. Then it sets.

And then it hurries back to where it rises.

6The wind blows to the south.

Then it turns to the north.

Around and around it goes.

It always returns to where it started.

7Every stream flows into the ocean.

But the ocean never gets full.

The streams return

to the place they came from.

8All things are tiresome.

They are more tiresome than anyone can say.

But our eyes never see enough of anything.

Our ears never hear enough.

9Everything that has ever been will come back again.

Everything that has ever been done will be done again.

Nothing is new on earth.

10There isn’t anything about which someone can say,

“Look! Here’s something new.”

It was already here long ago.

It was here before we were.

11No one remembers the people of long ago.

Even those who haven’t been born yet

won’t be remembered

by those who will be born after them.

Wisdom Is Meaningless

12I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13I decided to study things carefully. I used my wisdom to check everything out. I looked into everything that is done on earth. What a heavy load God has put on human beings! 14I’ve seen what is done on this earth. All of it is meaningless. It’s like chasing the wind.

15People can’t straighten things that are crooked.

They can’t count things that don’t even exist.

16I said to myself, “Look, I’ve now grown wiser than anyone who ruled over Jerusalem in the past. I have a lot of wisdom and knowledge.” 17Then I used my mind to understand what it really means to be wise. And I wanted to know what foolish pleasure is all about. But I found out that it’s also like chasing the wind.

18A lot of human wisdom leads to a lot of sorrow.

More knowledge only brings more sadness.