1Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.
2Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.
3For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.
4When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.
5Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.
6Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?
7For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.
8If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.
9Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.
10He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.
11When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?
12The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.
13There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.
14But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand.
15As he came forth of his mother’s womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand.
16And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind?
17All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness.
18Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.
19Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.
20For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.
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The Book of Ecclesiastes, called ( /ɨˌkliːziˈæstiːz/; Hebrew: קֹהֶלֶת, Qoheleth, literally, “Preacher,” in the Hebrew, or, in the most literal sense of the Greek, “Member of the Assembly,” sharing the root ekklesia with the word for “assembly,” or “church,” with Qoheleth being derived from a Heb. word of similar meaning, commonly referred to simply as Ecclesiastes (abbreviated “Ecc.”), is a book of the Hebrew Bible. The English name derives from the Greek translation of the Hebrew title.
The main speaker in the book, identified by the name or title Qoheleth (usually translated as “teacher” or “preacher”), introduces himself as “son of David, king in Jerusalem.” The work consists of personal or autobiographic matter, at times expressed in aphorisms and maxims illuminated in terse paragraphs with reflections on the meaning of life and the best way of life. The work emphatically proclaims all the actions of man to be inherently “vain”, “futile”, “empty”, “meaningless”, “temporary”, “transitory”, “fleeting, or “mere breath”, depending on translation, as the lives of both wise and foolish men end in death. While Qoheleth clearly endorses wisdom as a means for a well-lived earthly life, he is unable to ascribe eternal meaning to it. In light of this perceived senselessness, he suggests that one should enjoy the simple pleasures of daily life, such as eating, drinking, and taking enjoyment in one’s work, which are gifts from the hand of God.
According to the Talmud, however, the point of Qoheleth is to state that all is futile under the Sun. One should therefore put all one’s efforts towards that which is above the Sun. This is summed up in the second to last verse: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep His commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone” (12:13).
The book is particularly notable for its iconic phrases, “the sun also rises,” “[there’s] nothing new under the sun” (‘nihil novi sub sole’ in the Latin Vulgate) and “he who increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow.”
American 20th-century novelist Tom Wolfe wrote: “For of all I have ever seen or learned, this book seems to me the noblest, the wisest, and the most powerful expression of man’s life upon this earth – and also the highest flower of poetry, eloquence, and truth. I am not given to dogmatic judgments in the matter of literary creation, but if I had to make one I could say that Ecclesiastes is the greatest single piece of writing I have ever known, and the wisdom expressed in it the most lasting and profound.”
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In English, the title means “Preacher.” Traditionally held to have been written by Solomon, this book is now almost universally recognized as about him rather than by him. The author’s purpose is to prove the vanity of everything “under the sun.” This truth is first announced as fact, then proved from the “Preacher’s” experience and observations. Finally the author shows that the fullness of life is found only in the recognition of things “above the sun,” things spiritual as well as material.