New International Version

Ecclesiastes 1

Everything Is Meaningless

1The words of the Teacher,[a] son of David, king in Jerusalem:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their labors
    at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
    and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
    ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
    yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
    there they return again.
All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
    and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.

Wisdom Is Meaningless

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

15 What is crooked cannot be straightened;
    what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I 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.” 17 Then 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.

18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
    the more knowledge, the more grief.

Footnotes

  1. Ecclesiastes 1:1 Or the leader of the assembly; also in verses 2 and 12

New American Standard Bible

Ecclesiastes 1

The Futility of All Endeavor

1The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

[a]Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,
[b]Vanity of vanities! All is [c]vanity.”

What advantage does man have in all his work
Which he does under the sun?
A generation goes and a generation comes,
But the earth [d]remains forever.
Also, the sun rises and the sun sets;
And [e]hastening to its place it rises there again.
[f]Blowing toward the south,
Then turning toward the north,
The wind continues [g]swirling along;
And on its circular courses the wind returns.
All the rivers [h]flow into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full.
To the place where the rivers [i]flow,
There they [j]flow again.
All things are wearisome;
Man is not able to tell it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor is the ear filled with hearing.
That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one might say,
“See this, it is new”?
Already it has existed for ages
Which were before us.
11 There is no remembrance of [k]earlier things;
And also of the [l]later things which will occur,
There will be for them no remembrance
Among those who will come [m]later still.

The Futility of Wisdom

12 I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I set my [n]mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is [o]a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with. 14 I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is [p]vanity and striving after wind. 15 What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I [q]said to myself, “Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my [r]mind has observed [s]a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I set my [t]mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind. 18 Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.

Footnotes

  1. Ecclesiastes 1:2 Or Futility of futilities
  2. Ecclesiastes 1:2 Or Futility of futilities
  3. Ecclesiastes 1:2 Or futile
  4. Ecclesiastes 1:4 Lit stands
  5. Ecclesiastes 1:5 Lit panting
  6. Ecclesiastes 1:6 Lit Going
  7. Ecclesiastes 1:6 Lit turning
  8. Ecclesiastes 1:7 Lit go
  9. Ecclesiastes 1:7 Lit go
  10. Ecclesiastes 1:7 Lit go
  11. Ecclesiastes 1:11 Lit first or former
  12. Ecclesiastes 1:11 Lit latter or after
  13. Ecclesiastes 1:11 Lit latter or after
  14. Ecclesiastes 1:13 Lit heart
  15. Ecclesiastes 1:13 Lit an evil
  16. Ecclesiastes 1:14 Or futility
  17. Ecclesiastes 1:16 Lit spoke with my heart, saying
  18. Ecclesiastes 1:16 Lit heart
  19. Ecclesiastes 1:16 Lit an abundance
  20. Ecclesiastes 1:17 Lit heart