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Ecclesiastes: Chapter 2

The vanity of human courses in the works of pleasure, 1-11. Though the wise be better than the fool, yet both have one event, 12-17. The vanity of human labor, in leaving it they know not to whom, 18-23. Nothing better than joy in our labor; but that is God's gift, 24-26.

1 I said in my heart, "Come now, I will prove you with mirth; therefore, enjoy pleasure," and behold, this also is vanity. 2 I said of laughter, "It is mad," and of mirth, "What does it do?" 3 I searched in my heart how to cheer my flesh with wine, my heart yet guiding me with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, until I might see what was good for the sons of men which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life. 4 I made myself great works. I built myself houses. I planted myself vineyards. 5 I made myself gardens and orchards and I planted trees in them of all kinds of fruits. 6 I made myself pools of water, to water with them the forest that brings forth trees. 7 I procured myself servants and maidens and had servants born in my house. I also had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me. 8 I gathered myself also silver and gold and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces. I procured myself men-singers and women-singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and of all sorts.

9 Thus I was great and increased more than all who were before me in Jerusalem, and also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any joy, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor. And this was my portion of all my labor. 11 Then I considered all the works that my hands had wrought and the labor that I had labored 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, madness, and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Even that which has already been done. 13 Then I saw that wisdom excels folly, as far as light excels darkness. 14 The wise man's eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And I myself perceived also that one event happens to them all. 15 Then I said in my heart, "As it happens to the fool, so it happens 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 forever, seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how does the wise man die? As the fool. 17 Therefore, I hated life, because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous to me. For all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

18 Indeed, I hated all my labor which I had taken under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who shall be after me. 19 And who knows whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? Yet he shall have rule over all my labor in which I have labored and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity. 20 Therefore, I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labor which I took under the sun. 21 For there is a man whose labor is in wisdom, in knowledge, and in equity, yet to a man who has not labored in it, he shall leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 For what does man have of all his labor and of the vexation of his heart, in which he has labored under the sun? 23 For all his days are sorrows and his labor grief. Even his heart does not take 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 labor. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat, or who else can hasten to it more than I? 26 For to the man who is good in his sight, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy, but to the sinner he gives toil, to gather and to amass, so that he may give to him who is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.