"Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher, "Vanity of vanities! All is vanity." -- 1:2

I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. -- 1:14

And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind.  Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain. -- 1:17-18

Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me.  And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity. -- 2:18-19

He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. -- 3:11

One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind. -- 4:6

A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. -- 4:12

For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God. -- 5:7

As he had come naked from his mother's womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand. -- 5:15

Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one's labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. -- 5:18

Do not say, "Why is it that the former days were better than these?"  For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this. -- 7:10

In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider God has made the one as well as the other. -- 7:14

Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. -- 7:20

Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil. -- 8:11

Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and may lengthen his life, still I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly.  But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a  shadow, because he does not fear God. -- 8:12-13

So I commended pleasure, for there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to drink and to be merry, and this will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun. -- 8:15

Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun. -- 9:9

Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days. -- 11:1

Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things. -- 11:5

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth. -- 12:1

Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. -- 12:6-7

The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. -- 12:11

The conclusion, when all has been heard, is:  fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. -- 12:13


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 remains forever. Also, the sun rises and the sun sets; and hastening to its place it rises there again.  Blowing toward the south, then turning toward the north, the wind continues  swirling along; and on its circular courses the wind returns.  All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they 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. -- 1:3-9

All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor.  Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun. -- 2:10-11

So I turned to consider wisdom, madness and folly; for what will the man do who will come after the king except what has already been done?  And I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness.  The wise man's eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I know that one fate befalls them both.  Then I said to myself, "As is the fate of the fool, it will also befall me.  Why then have I been extremely wise?"  So I said to myself, "This too is vanity."  For there is no lasting remembrance of the wise man as with the fool, inasmuch as in the coming days all will be forgotten. And how the wise man and the fool alike die! -- 2:12-16

There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.  For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?  For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God's sight. This too is vanity and striving after wind. -- 2:24-26

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. -- 3:1-8

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.  For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.  Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?  And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. -- 4:9-12

I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all.  Moreover, man does not know his time: like fish caught in a treacherous net and birds trapped in a snare, so the sons of men are ensnared at an evil time when it suddenly falls on them. -- 9:11-12

But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.  The conclusion, when all has been heard, is:  fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.  For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. -- 12:12-14


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"The Four Questions," from Illuminations: Arthur Szyk's Haggadah, Library of Congress
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