King James Version

Ecclesiastes 2

1I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity.

I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it?

I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life.

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

I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits:

I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees:

I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me:

I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts.

So I was great, and increased more than all that were 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 of all my labour.

11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

12 And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done.

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

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

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

16 For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool.

17 Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

18 Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.

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

20 Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun.

21 For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

22 For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun?

23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.

24 There is nothing better for a man, than 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 else can hasten hereunto, more than I?

26 For God 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 before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.

New International Reader's Version

Ecclesiastes 2

Pleasure Is Meaningless

1I said to myself, “Come on. I’ll try out pleasure. I want to find out if it is good.” But it also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter doesn’t make any sense,” I said. “And what can pleasure do for me?” I tried cheering myself up by drinking wine. I even tried living in a foolish way. But wisdom was still guiding my mind. I wanted to see what was good for people to do on earth during their short lives.

So I started some large projects. I built houses for myself. I planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks. I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made lakes to water groves of healthy trees. I bought male and female slaves. And I had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem ever had before. I stored up silver and gold for myself. I gathered up the treasures of kings and their kingdoms. I got some male and female singers. I also got many women for myself. Women delight the hearts of men. I became far more important than anyone in Jerusalem had ever been before. And in spite of everything, I didn’t lose my wisdom.

10 I gave myself everything my eyes wanted.
    There wasn’t any pleasure that I refused to give myself.
I took delight in everything I did.
    And that was what I got for all my work.
11 But then I looked over everything my hands had done.
    I saw what I had worked so hard to get.
And nothing had any meaning.
    It was like chasing the wind.
    Nothing was gained on this earth.

Wisdom and Foolish Pleasure Are Meaningless

12 I decided to think about wisdom.
    I also thought about foolish pleasure.
What more can a new king do?
    Can he do anything more than others have already done?
13 I saw that wisdom is better than foolishness,
    just as light is better than darkness.
14 The eyes of a wise person see things clearly.
    A person who is foolish lives in darkness.
But I finally realized that death catches up
    with both of them.

15 Then I said to myself,

“What happens to a foolish person will catch up with me too.
    So what do I gain by being wise?”
I said to myself,
    “That doesn’t have any meaning either.”
16 Like a foolish person, a wise person won’t be remembered very long.
    The days have already come when both of them have been forgotten.
Like a person who is foolish,
    a wise person must die too!

Work Is Meaningless

17 So I hated life. That’s because the work done on this earth made me sad. None of it has any meaning. It’s like chasing the wind. 18 I hated everything I had worked for on earth. I’ll have to leave all of it to someone who lives after me. 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Either way, they’ll take over everything on earth I’ve worked so hard for. That doesn’t have any meaning either. 20 So I began to lose hope because of all my hard work on this earth. 21 A person might use wisdom, knowledge and skill to do their work. But then they have to leave everything they own to someone who hasn’t worked for it. That doesn’t have any meaning either. In fact, it isn’t fair. 22 What do people get for all their hard work on earth? What do they get for all their worries? 23 As long as they live, their work is nothing but pain and sorrow. Even at night their minds can’t rest. That doesn’t have any meaning either.

24 A person can’t do anything better than eat, drink and be satisfied with their work. I’m finally seeing that those things also come from the hand of God. 25 Without his help, who can eat or find pleasure? 26 God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness to the person who pleases him. But to a sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth. Then the sinner must hand it over to the one who pleases God. That doesn’t have any meaning either. It’s like chasing the wind.