King James Version

Ecclesiastes 1:1-18

1The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 2Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. 3What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

4One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. 5The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.1.5 hasteth: Heb. panteth 6The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. 7All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.1.7 return…: Heb. return to go 8All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

9The 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. 10Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. 11There 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. 13And 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.1.13 to be…: or, to afflict them 14I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. 15That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.1.15 that which is wanting: Heb. defect 16I 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.1.16 had…: Heb. had seen much 17And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. 18For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

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.