The Futility of Life
1There is an evil which I have seen under the sun and it is prevalent [a]among men— 2 a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing of all that he desires; yet God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a foreigner [b]enjoys them. This is [c]vanity and a severe affliction. 3 If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, however many [d]they be, but his soul is not satisfied with good things and he does not even have a proper burial, then I say, “Better the miscarriage than he, 4 for it comes in futility and goes into obscurity; and its name is covered in obscurity. 5 It never sees the sun and it never knows anything; [e]it is better off than he. 6 Even if the other man lives a thousand years twice and does not [f]enjoy good things—do not all go to one place?”
7 All a man’s labor is for his mouth and yet the [g]appetite is not [h]satisfied. 8 For what advantage does the wise man have over the fool? What advantage does the poor man have, knowing how to walk before the living? 9 What the eyes see is better than what the soul [i]desires. This too is futility and a striving after wind.
10 Whatever exists has already been named, and it is known what man is; for he cannot dispute with him who is stronger than he is. 11 For there are many words which increase futility. What then is the advantage to a man? 12 For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few [j]years of his futile life? He will [k]spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?