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Ecclesiastes: Chapter 1

The preacher shows that all human courses are vain, 1-3; because the creatures are restless in their courses, 4-8, they bring forth nothing new, and all old things are forgotten, 9-11; and because he has found it so in the studies of wisdom, 12-18.

1 [The words of the preacher, the son of David, king of Jerusalem.]

2 "Vanity of vanities," says the preacher. "Vanity of vanities. All is vanity."

3 What profit does a man have of all his labor, which he takes under the sun?

4 One generation passes away and another generation comes, but the earth abides forever.

5 The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastes to his place where he arose.

6 The wind goes toward the south and turns about to the north. It whirls about continually. And the wind returns again according to its circuits.

7 All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place from where the rivers come, there they return again.

8 All things are full of labor. Man cannot utter it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

9 The thing that has been, is that which shall be. And that which is done, is that which shall be done. And there is nothing new under the sun.

10 Is there anything of which it may be said, "See, this is new"? It has been already of old time, which was before us.

11 There 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. 13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven. This is a grievous labor that God has given to the sons of man to be exercised with. 14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. 15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight. And that which is lacking cannot be numbered.

16 I communed with my own heart, saying, "Behold, I have come to great estate and have gained more wisdom than all those who have been before me in Jerusalem, and my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge." 17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. 18 For in much wisdom is much grief. And he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.