The Book of the Preacher
These are the words of the Preacher, the son of David, king of Jerusalem. all is but vanity ( saith the Preacher ) all is but plain vanity. For what else hath a man, of all the labor that he hath taketh under the Sun? One generation passeth away, another cometh, but the earth abideth still. The *Son ariseth, the Sun goeth down, and returneth to his place, that he may there riseth up again. The wind goeth toward the South, and fetcheth his compass about unto the North, and so turneth in to himself again. All floods run into the sea, and yet the sea is not filled: for look unto what place the waters run, thence they come again. All things are so hard, that no man can express them. The eye is not satisfied with sight, the ear is not filled with hearing. The thing that hath been cometh to pass again: there is no new thing under the Sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said: Lo, this is new? For it was long ago in the times that have been before us. The thing that is past, is out of remembrance: Even so the things that are for to come, shall no more be thought upon among them that come after. I myself the Preacher, being King of Israel and Jerusalem, applied my mind to seek out and search for the knowledge of all things that are done under heaven. Such travail and labor hath God given to the children of men, to exercise themselves therin. Thus I have considered all the things that come to pass under the Sun, and, lo, they are all but vanity and vexation of mind. The crooked man cannot be made straight, and the faults cannot be numbered. I communed with mine own heart, saying: Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom, than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem. Yee, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge, for there unto I applied my mind: that I might know what were wisdom and understanding, what were error and foolishness. And I perceived that this also was but a vexation of mind: For where much wisdom is, there is also great travail and disquietness: and the more knowledge a man hath, the more is his care.
* the above is exactly as it appears in the text. The writers were well aware, of the different
spellings for the words son or sun which were written Sonne for Son and Sunne for Sun.RN
The 2nd Chapter
Then said I thus in mine heart: Now go to, I will take mine ease and have good days. But lo, that was vanity also: in so much as I said unto laughter: thou art mad, and to *mirth: What doest thou?
*mirth from the Hebrew is joy, gladness, rejoice
So I thought in my heart, *to withdraw myself from wine, to apply my mind unto wisdom, and to comprehend foolishness until the time that among all things which are under the Sun, I might see what were best for men do, so long as they live under heaven.*(kjv =to give myself unto wine )
I made gorgeous fair works. I builded me houses, and planted vineyards. I made me orchards and gardens of pleasure, and planted trees in them of all manner fruits. I made pools of water, to water the green and fruitful trees withal. I bought servants and maidens, and had a great household. As for cattle and sheep, I had more substance of them, then all that were before me in Jerusalem. I gathered silver and gold together, even a treasure of kings and lands.
I provided me singers and women which could play of instruments, to make man mirth and pastime. I got me drinking cups also and glasses. Shortly, I was greater and in more worship, than all my predecessors in Jerusalem. For wisdom remained with me: And look whatsoever mine eyes desired, I let them have it: and wherein so ever my heart delighted, or had any pleasure, I withheld it not from it. Thus my heart rejoiced in all that I did, and this I took of all my travail. But when I considered all the works that my hands had wrought, and all the labors that I had taken therin: Lo, all was vanity and vexation of mind, and nothing of any value under the Sun. Then turned I me to consider wisdom, error and foolishness, for what is he among men, that might be compared to me the king in such work? And I saw that wisdom excelleth foolishness, as far as light doeth darkness. For a wise man beareth his eyes about in his head, but the fool goeth in the darkness. I perceived also that they both had one end. Then thought I in my mind: If it happeneth unto the fool as it doeth unto me, what needeth me then to labor any more for wisdom? So I confessed within my heart, that this also was but vanity. For the wise are ever as little in remembrance as the foolish, and all the days for to come shall be forgotten, Yee the wise man dieth as well as the fool. Thus began I to be weary of my life, in so much that I could away with nothing that is done under the Sun, for all was vanity and vexation of mind: Yee I was weary of all my labor, which I had taken under the Sun, because I should be faine (obliged/ willing happy) to leave them unto another man, that cometh after me for who knoweth, whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? And yet shall he be lord of all my labors, which I with such wisdom have taken under the Sun. Is this not a vain thing?
So I turned me to refrain from all such travail, as I took under the Sun: For so much as a man
should weary himself with wisdom, with understanding and opportunity, and yet be fain to leave
his labors unto another, that never sweat for them. This is also a vain thing and a great misery. For
what getteth a man of all that labor and travail of his mind, that he taketh under the Sun, but
heaviness, sorrow and disquietness all the days of his life? In so much that his heart can not rest in
the night. Is this not also a vain thing? Is it not better then for a man to eat and drink, and his soul
to be merry in his labor? Yee I saw that this also was a gift of God: For who may eat, drink, or
bring anything to pass without him? And why? He giveth unto man, what it pleaseth him: whether
it be wisdom, understanding, or gladness. But unto the sinner he giveth weariness and sorrow,
that he may gather and heap together the thing, that afterward shall be given unto him whom it
pleaseth God. This is now a vain thing, yee a very disquietness and vexation of mind.
The 3rd Chapter
Every thing hath a time, yee all that is under the heaven, hath is convenient season. There is a time to be born, and a time to die. there is a time to plant, and a time to pluck up the thing, that is planted:
A time to slay, and a time to make whole
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 together:
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing:
A time to win, and a time to lese (lose, lease):
A time to spare, and a time to spend:
A time to cut in pieces, and a time to sew together:
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.
What hath a man else ( that doeth anything ) but weariness and labor? For as touching the travail
and carefulness which God hath given unto men, I see that he hath given it them, to be exercised
in it. All this hath he ordered marvelous goodly, to every thing his due time. He hath planted
ignorance in the hearts of men, that they should not find out the ground of his works, which he
doeth from beginning to the end. So I perceived, that in these things there is nothing better for a
man, then to be merry and to do well so long as he liveth. For all that a man eateth and drinketh,
yee what so ever a man enjoyeth of all his labor, the same is a gift from God. I considered also
that whatsoever God doeth, it continueth for ever, and that nothing can be put unto it, nor taken
from it: And that God doeth it to the intent, that men should fear him. The thing that hath been, is
now: and the thing that is for to come, hath been afore time, for God restoreth again the thing that
was past. Moreover, I saw under the sun ungodliness in the stead of judgment, and iniquity in
stead of righteousness. Then thought I in my mind: God shall separate the righteous from the
ungodly, and then shall be the time of judgement of all counsels and works. I communed with
mine own heart also concerning the children of men: how that God hath chosen them, and yet
letteth them appear as though they were beasts: For it happeneth unto men as it doth unto beasts,
and as one dieth, so dieth the other: yee they have both one manner of *birth, (kjv =breath) so
that ( in this ) a man hath no preeminence above a beast, but all are subdued unto vanity. They go
all unto one place, for as they all be of dust, so shall they all turn unto dust again. Who knoweth
the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the breath (kjv = spirit) of the beast that goeth down into
the earth? Wherefore I perceive, that there is nothing better for a man, than to be joyful in his
labor, for that is his portion. But who will bring him to see the thing that shall come after him?
The 4th Chapter
So I returned me, and considered all the violent wrong that is done under the Sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and there *was no man to comfort them (kjv =had no comforter) or that would deliver and defend them from the violence of their oppressors. Wherefore I judged those that are dead, to be more happy than such as be alive: Yee him that is yet unborn to be better at ease then they both, because he seeth not the miserable works that are done under the Sun.
Again, I saw that all travail and diligence of labor was hated of every man. This is also a vain thing, and a vexation to the *mind. (still in kjv = spirit) The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth up his own flesh. One handful (sayeth he) is better with rest, then both hands full with labor and travail. Moreover, I turned me, and behold yet another vanity under the *Son. (again, this is not a misprint = Son) .
There is one man, no more but himself alone, having neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of his careful travail, his eyes cannot be satisfied with riches, (yet doth he not remember himself, and say:) For whom do I take such travail? For whos pleasure do I thus consume away my life? This is also a vain and miserable thing. Therefore two are better than one, for they may well enjoy the profit for their labor. If one of them fall, his companion helpeth him up again: But woe is him that is alone, for if he fall, he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two sleep together, they are warm: but how can a body be warm alone? One may be overcome, but two may make resistance: A threefold cable is not lightly broken. A poor child being wise, is better than an old king, that doteth, and cannot beware in time to come. Someone cometh out of prison, and is made a king: and another which is born in the kingdom, cometh unto poverty. And I perceived, that all men living under the *Son (not a misprint = Son), go with the second child, that cometh up instead of the other.
As for the people that have been before him, and that come after him, they are innumerable: yet is
not their joy greater through him. This is also a vain thing and a vexationof the mind. (kjv =spirit)
When thou comest into the house of God, keep thy foot and draw nye, that thou mayest hear: that
is better then the offerings of fools, for they know not what evil they do.
The 5th Chapter
Be not hasty with thy mouth, and let not thine heart speak anything rashly before God. For God is
in heaven, and thou upon earth, therefore let thy words be few. For where much carelessness is,
there are many dreams: and where many words are, there men may hear fools.>
< If thou make a vow unto God, be not slack to perform it. As for foolish vows, he hath no pleasure in them. If thou promise anything, pay it: for better it is that thou make no vow than that thou shouldest promise, and not pay. Use not thy mouth to cause thy flesh for to sin, that thou sayest not before the angel: my foolishness is in the fault. For then God will be angry at thy voice, and destroy all the work of thine hands. And why? Where as are many dreams and many words, there are also divers vanities: but look that thou fear God. If thou seest the poor to be oppressed and wrongestly dealt withal, so that equity and the right of the law is *wrasted (to twist or distort the meaning of ) in the land: marvel not thou at such judgement, for one great man keepeth touch with another, and the mighty help themselves together. The land also with the fields and all that is therin, is in subjection to the king. He that loveth money, will never be satisfied with money: and whoso delighteth in riches, shall have no profit thereof. Is not this also a vain thing? Where as much riches is, there are also many that spend them away. And what pleasure more hath he that possesseth them, saving that he may look upon them with his eyes? A laboring man sleepeth sweetly, whether it be little or much that he eateth: but the aboundance of the rich will not suffer them to sleep.
Yet is there a sore plague, which I have seen under the sun, (namely) riches to keep the hurt of him that hath them in possession.
For often times they perish with his great misery and trouble: and if he have a child it getteth
nothing. Like as he came naked out of his mothers womb, so goeth he thither again, and carryeth
nothing away with him for all his labor. This is a miserable plague, that he shall go away even as
he came. What helpeth him then, that he hath labored in the wind? All the days of his life also
must he eat in the dark, with great carefulness, sickness and sorrow. >
<Therefore me think it a better and fairer thing, a man to eat and drink, and be refreshed of all his
labor, that he taketh under the Sun all the days of his life, which God gave him, for this is his
portion. For unto whom so ever God giveth riches, goods and power, he giveth it him to enjoy it,
to take for his portion, and to be refreshed of his labor: this is now the gift of God. For he
thinketh not much how long he shall live, for so much as God filleth his heart with gladness.
The 6th Chapter
There is yet another plague under the Sun, and it is a general thing among men: When God giveth
a man riches, goods and honor, so that he wanteth nothing of all that his heart can desire: and yet
God giveth him not leave to enjoy the same, but another man spendeth them. This is a vain thing
and a miserable plague. If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that his days
are many in number, and yet can not enjoy his good, neither be buried: as for him I say, that an
untimely birth is better than he. For he cometh to naught, and goeth his way into darkness, and his
name is forgotten. Moreover, he seeth not the *Son, and knoweth no rest neither here ner there:
Yee, though he live *two thousand years, yet he hath no good life. Come not all to one place? <
>All the labor that man hath taken, is for himself, and yet his desire is never filled after his mind.
For what hath the wise more than the fool? What helpeth it the poor, that he knoweth to walk
before the living? The sight of the eyes is better, then that the fool should depart away. Howbeit
this is also a vain thing and a disquietness of the mind. What is more excellent than man? Yet can
he not in the law get victory of him that is mightier than he: A vain thing is it to cast out many
words, but what hath a man else? * note: two thousand years RN
The 7th Chapter
For who knoweth what is good for man living, in the days of his vain life, which is but a shadow?
Or, who will tell a man, what shall happen after him under the *Son?
*And again this is Son. RN
A good name is more worth than a precious ointment, and the day of death is better than the day of one birth. It is better to go into an house of mourning, than into a banquetting house. For there is the end of all men, and he that is living, taketh it to heart. It is better to be sorry than to laugh, for when the countenance is heavy, the heart is joyful. The heart of the wise is in the mourning house, but the heart of foolish is in the house of mirth. It is better to give ear to the chastening of a wise man, than to hear the song of fools. For the laughting of fool is like the crackling of thorns under a pot. And that is but a vain thing.
Who so doeth wrong, maketh a wise man go out of his wit, and destroyeth a gentle heart. The end of a thing is better than the beginning. The patient of spirit is better than the* high minded. (kjv = proud in spirit) Be not hastily angry in thy mind, for wrath resteth in the bosom of a fool. Say not thou: What is the cause that the days of the old were better, than they that be now? For that were no wise question. Wisdom is better than riches, yee much more worth than the eyesight. For wisdom defendeth as well as money, and the excellent knowledge and wisdom giveth life to him that have it in possession. Consider the work of God, how that no man can make the thing straight, which he maketh crooked. Use well the time of prosperity and remember the time of misfortune: For God maketh one by the other, so that a man can find nothing else.
These two things also have I considered in the time of vanity: that the just man perisheth for his righteousness sake, and the ungodly liveth in his wickedness. Therefore be thou neither too righteous or over wise, that thou perish not: be neither too unrighteous also nor too foolish, lest thou die before thy time. It is good for thee to take hold of this, and not to let that go out of thy hand. For he that feareth God shall *escape them all. (kjv = come forth of them all.)
Wisdom giveth more courage unto the wise, than ten mighty men of the city. For there is not one
just upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not. Take not heed unto every word that is spoken,
lest thy servant curse thee: For thine own heart knoweth, that thou thyself also hast often times
spoken evil by other men.
All these things I have proved because of wisdom: For I thought to be wise, but she went farther from me than she was before, yee and so deep that i might not reach unto her. I applied my mind also to knowledge, and to seek out *, ( kjv = wisdom) wisdom and understanding: to know the foolishness of the ungodly, and the error of the doting fools. And I found, that a woman is bitterer than death: for she is a very *angle, (hook) her heart is a net, and her hands are chains. Who so pleaseth God shall escape from her.
Behold ( sayeth the preacher) this have I diligently searched out and proved, that I might come by knowledge: which as yet I seek, and find it not. Among a thousand men I have found one, but not one woman among all. Lo, this only have I found, that God made man just and right, but they seek diverse *subtleties, where as no man hath wisdom and understanding, to give answer there unto.
*subtleties = crafty, sly, devious. Operating in hidden, insidious and destructive way.
The 8th Chapter
< Wisdom maketh a mans face to shine, but malice putteth it out of favor. Keep the kings commandment ( I warn thee) and the other that thou hast made unto God. Be not hasty to go out of his sight, and see thou continue in no evil thing: for whatsoever it pleaseth him, that doeth he. Like as when a king giveth a charge, his commandment is mighty: Even so whom may say unto him: What doest thou? Whoso keepeth the commandment, shall feel no harm: but a wise mans heart discerneth both time and manner: For everything will have opportunity and judgment, and this the thing that maketh men full of carefulness, and sorrow. And why? A man knoweth not what is for to come, for who will tell him?>
< Neither is there any man that hath power over the spirit, to keep still the spirit, ner have any power in the time of death: it is not he also that can make an end of the battle, neither may ungodliness deliver him that meddle with all.
All these things have I considered, and applied my mind unto every work that is under the *Son: how one man hath Lordship over another to his own harm. For I have often seen the ungodly brought to their graves, and fallen down from the high and glorious place: in so much that they were forgotten in the city, where they were had in so high and great reputation. This is also a vain thing. Because now that evil works are not hastily punished, the heart of man giveth himself over to wickedness. But though an evil person offend an hundred times, and have a long life: yet am I sure, that it shall go well with them that fear God, because they have him before their eyes. Again, as for the ungodly, it shall not be well with him, neither shall he prolong his days: but even as a shadow, so shall he be that feareth not God.
Yet there is a vanity upon the earth: there be just men, unto whom it happeneth, as though they
had the works of the ungodly: Again, there be ungodly, with whom it goeth as though they had
the works of the righteous. This me think also a vain thing. Therefore I commend gladness,
because a man hath no better thing under the *Son, than to eat and to drink, and to be merry: for
that shall he have of his labor all the days of his life, which God giveth him under the *Son. When
I applied mine mind to learn wisdom, and to *know the *travail that is in the world ( kjv business)
that is done upon the earth): (and that of such fashion, that I suffered not my eyes to sleep neither
day ner night ) I understood of all the works of God, that it is not impossible for a man, to attain
unto works that are done under the *Son: and though he bestow his labor to seek them out, yet
can he not reach unto them: yee though a wise man would undertake to know them, yet he might
not find them.
The 9th Chapter
For all these things purposed I in my mind to seek out. The righteous and wise, yee and their works also are in the hand of God: and there is no man that knoweth either the love or hate of the thing that he hath before him. It happeneth unto one as unto another: It goeth with the righteous as with the ungodly: with the good and clean as with the unclean: with him that offereth as with him that offereth not: like as goeth with the virtuous, so goeth it also with the sinner: As it happeneth unto the *perjured, so happeneth it also unto him that is afraid to be foresworn. Among all things that come to pass under the Son, this is a mystery, that it happeneth unto all alike. This is the cause also that men are full of wickedness and mad foolishness is in their hearts, as long as they live, until they die.
And why? As long as a man liveth, he is careless: for a quick dog (they say) is better than a dead lion: for they that be living, know that they shall die: but they that be dead, know nothing, neither deserve they anymore. For their memorial is forgotten, so they that be neither loved, hated ner envied: neither have they anymore part in the world, in all that is done under the Son. Go thy way then, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with gladness, for thy works please God. Let thy garments be always white, and let thy head *want (kjv = lack) none ointment. Use thy self to live joyfully with thy wife whom thou lovest, all the days of the life, which is but vanity, that God hath given thee under the *Son, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, of all thy labor and travail that thou takest under the *Son. Whatsoever thou takest in thy hand to do, do that with all thy power: for among the dead, where thou goest unto, there is neither work, counsel, knowledge ner wisdom.
So I turned me unto other things under the Son, and I saw, that in running, it helpeth not to be swift: in battle, it helpeth not to be strong: to feeding, it helpeth not to be wise: to riches, it helpeth not to be futile: to be had in favor, it helpeth not to be cunning: but that all lieth in time and fortune. For man knoweth not his time, but as the fish are taken with the *angle (hook) and as the birds are catched with the snare: Even so are men taken in the perilous time, when it cometh suddenly upon them.
This wisdom have I seen also under the *Son, and me thought it a great thing. There was a little
city, and few men within it: so there came a great king and besieged it, and made great bulwarks
against it. And in the city there was found a poor man, ( but he was wise) which with his wisdom
he delivered the city: yet was there no body, that had any respect for such a simple man. Then said
I: Wisdom is better than strength. Nevertheless, a simple mans wisdom is despised, and his words
are not heard. A wise mans counsel that is followed in silence, is far above the crying of a captain
among fools. For wisdom is better than harness: but one unthrifty alone destroyeth much good.
The 10th Chapter
Dead flies that corrupt sweet ointment and make it to stink, are something more worth then the wisdom and honor of a fool. A wise mans heart is upon the right hand, but a fools heart is upon the left. A doting fool thinketh, that every man doth as foolishly as himself. If a principal spirit be given thee to bear rule, be not negligent in thine office: for so shall great wickedness be put down, as it were with a medicine. Another plague there is, which I have seen under the *son: namely, the ignorance that is commonly among princes: in that a fool setteth in great dignity, and the rich sit down beneath: I see servants ride upon horses, and princes going upon their feet as it were servants. But he that diggeth up a pit, shall fall therin himself: and whoso breaketh down the hedge, a serpent shall bite him. Whoso removeth stones shall have travail withal: and he that heweth wood shall be hurt therewith.
When an iron is blunt, and the point not sharpened, it must be whet again, and that with might: Even so doth wisdom follow diligence. A babbler of his tongue is no better than a serpent that stingeth without hissing. The words of a wise mans mouth are gracious, but the lips of a fool will destroy himself. The beginning of his talking is foolishness, and the last word of his mouth is great madness.>
< A fool is so full of words, that a man cannot tell what end he shall make: who will then warn him to make a conclusion? The labor of the foolish is grievous unto them, while they know not how to go in to the city.
Woe be unto thee, ( O' thou realm and land ) whos king is but a child, and whose princes are early at their banquettes. But well is the ( O' thou realm and land ) whose king is come of nobles, and whose princes eat in due season, for strength and not for lust. Through slothfulness the *balcks fall down, and through idle hands it raineth at the house. Meat maketh men to laugh, and wine maketh them merry: but unto money all things are obedient. Wish the king no evil in thy thought, and speak no hurt of the rich in thy privy chamber: for a bird of the air shall betray thy voice, and with her feathers shall she betray thy words.
*balcks = balks; a wooden beam or rafter. RN
The 11th Chapter
Send thy vitals over the waters, and so shalt thou find them after many years. Give it away among seven or eight, for thou knowest not what misery shall come upon the earth. When the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth. And when the tree falleth ( whether it be toward the South or North ) in what place so ever it fall, there it lieth. He that regardeth the wind, shall not sow: and he that hath respect unto the clouds, shall not reap. Now like as thou knowest not the way of the wind, nor how the bones are filled in a mothers womb: Even so thou knowest not the works of God, which is the workmaster of all.
Cease not thou therefore with thy hands to sow thy seed, whether it be in the morning or in the
evening: for then knowest not whether this or that shall prosper, and if they both take, it is better.
The light is sweet, and a pleasant thing is it for the eyes to look upon the *Sun. If a man live many
years, and be glad in them all, let him remember the days of darkness, which shall be many: And
when they come, all things shall be but vanity. Be glad then ( O' thou young man ) in thy youth,
and let thine heart be merry in thy young days: follow the ways of thine own heart, and the lust of
thine eyes: but be thou sure, that God shall bring thee into judgment for all these things.
The 12th Chapter
Put away displeasure out of thine heart, and remove evil from thy body: for childhood and youth is but vanity. Remember thy maker in thy youth, or ever the days of adversity come, and or the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say: I have no pleasure in them before the sun, the light, the moon and stars be darkened, and or the clouds turn again after the rain: when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and when the strong men shall bow themselves: when the millers stand still, because they be so few, and when the sight of the windows shall wax dim: when the doors in the streets shall be shut, and when the voice of the miller shall be layed down: when men shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and when all the daughters of music shall be brought low: When men shall fear in high places, and be afraid in the streets: when the Almond tree shall *be despised (kjv = flourish) the grasshopper born out, and when great poverty shall break in: when man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets. Or ever the silver lace be taken away, or the golden band broken: or the pot be broken at the well, and the wheel upon the cistern: Or dust be turned again unto the earth from whence it came, and the spirit return unto God, which gave it. All is but vanity ( saith the preacher ) all is but plain vanity.
The same preacher was *not wise alone, but taught the people knowledge also: he gave good heed, sought out the ground and set forth many parables. His diligence was to find out acceptable words, right scripture, and the words of truth. For the words of the wise are like pricks and nails that go through, wherewith men are kept together: for they are given of one shepherd only. Therefore beware ( my son ) that above these thou make not many and innumerable books, nor take diverse doctrines in hand, to weary thy body withal.
Let us hear the conclusion of things: Fear God, and keep his commandments, for *that toucheth
all men: (kjv = whole dutyof man.) For God shall judge all works and secret things, whether they
be good, or evil.
The end of the book of the Preacher,
other wise called Ecclesiastes