Table of Contents
The Book of the Preacherotherwise called Ecclesiastes
The 1st Chapter
These are the words of the Preacher, the son of David, king of Jerusalem. all is but vanity (says the Preacher) all is but plain vanity. For what else has a man, of all the labor that he has takes under the Sun? One generation passes away, another comes, but the earth abides still. The *Son arises, the Sun goes down, and returns to his place, that he may there rises up again. The wind goes toward the South, and fetches his compass about unto the North, and so turns 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, from that place 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 has been comes 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 has 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. Yes, 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 has, 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 word 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: you are mad, and to *mirth: What do you? *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 excells foolishness, as far as light does darkness. For a wise man bears his eyes about in his head, but the fool goes in the darkness. I perceived also that they both had one end. Then thought I in my mind: If it happens unto the fool as it does unto me, what needs 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, Yes the wise man dies 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: Yes 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 comes after me for who knows, 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 gets a man of all that labor and travail of his mind, that he takes 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? Yes 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 gives unto man, what it pleases him: whether it be wisdom, understanding, or gladness. But unto the sinner he gives weariness and sorrow, that he may gather and heap together the thing, that afterward shall be given unto him whom it pleases God. This is now a vain thing, yes a very disquietness and vexation of mind.
The 3rd Chapter
Every thing has a time, yes all that is under the heaven, has 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 has a man else (that does anything) but weariness and labor? For as touching the travail and carefulness which God has given unto men, I see that he has given it them, to be exercised in it. All this has he ordered marvelous goodly, to every thing his due time. He has planted ignorance in the hearts of men, that they should not find out the ground of his works, which he does 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 lives. For all that a man eats and drinks, yes what so ever a man enjoys of all his labor, the same is a gift from God. I considered also that whatsoever God does, it continues for ever, and that nothing can be put unto it, nor taken from it: And that God does it to the intent, that men should fear him. The thing that has been, is now: and the thing that is for to come, has been before time, for God restores 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 has chosen them, and yet lets them appear as though they were beasts: For it happens unto men as it does unto beasts, and as one dies, so dies the other: yes they have both one manner of *birth, (kjv =breath) so that (in this) a man has 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 knows the spirit of man that goes upward, and the breath (kjv = spirit) of the beast that goes 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: Yes him that is yet unborn to be better at ease then they both, because he sees 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 folds his hands together, and eats up his own flesh. One handful (says 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 does 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 helps him up again: But woe is him that is alone, for if he fall, he has 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 does, and cannot beware in time to come. Someone comes out of prison, and is made a king: and another which is born in the kingdom, comes unto poverty. And I perceived, that all men living under the *Son (not a misprint = Son), go with the second child, that comes 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 vexation of the mind. (kjv =spirit) When you come into the house of God, keep your foot and draw nye, that you may hear: that is better then the offerings of fools, for they know not what evil they do.
The 5th Chapter
Be not hasty with your mouth, and let not your heart speak anything rashly before God. For God is in heaven, and you upon earth, therefore let your words be few. For where much carelessness is, there are many dreams: and where many words are, there men may hear fools. If you make a vow unto God, be not slack to perform it. As for foolish vows, he has no pleasure in them. If you promise anything, pay it: for better it is that you make no vow than that you should promise, and not pay. Use not your mouth to cause your flesh for to sin, that you say not before the angel: my foolishness is in the fault. For then God will be angry at your voice, and destroy all the work of your hands. And why? Where as are many dreams and many words, there are also divers vanities: but look that you fear God. If you see the poor to be oppressed and wrongly 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 you at such judgement, for one great man keeps 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 loves money, will never be satisfied with money: and whoso delights 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 has he that possesses them, saving that he may look upon them with his eyes? A laboring man sleeps sweetly, whether it be little or much that he eats: but the abundance of the rich will not allow 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 has them in possession.
For often times they perish with his great misery and trouble: and if he have a child it gets nothing. Like as he came naked out of his mothers womb, so goes he over there again, and carries nothing away with him for all his labor. This is a miserable plague, that he shall go away even as he came. What helps him then, that he has 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 takes under the Sun all the days of his life, which God gave him, for this is his portion. For unto whom so ever God gives riches, goods and power, he gives 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 thinks not much how long he shall live, for so much as God fills 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 gives a man riches, goods and honor, so that he wants nothing of all that his heart can desire: and yet God gives him not leave to enjoy the same, but another man spends 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 comes to naught, and goes his way into darkness, and his name is forgotten. Moreover, he sees not the *Son, and knows no rest neither here nor there: Yes, though he live *two thousand years, yet he has no good life. Come not all to one place? All the labor that man has taken, is for himself, and yet his desire is never filled after his mind. For what has the wise more than the fool? What helps it the poor, that he knows 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 has a man else? * note this : two thousand years RN
The 7th Chapter
For who knows 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?
The two lines above, were left out of the kjv. *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, takes 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 laughing of fool is like the crackling of thorns under a pot. And that is but a vain thing.
Who so does wrong, makes a wise man go out of his wit, and destroys 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 your mind, for wrath rests in the bosom of a fool. Say not you: 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, yes much more worth than the eyesight. For wisdom defends as well as money, and the excellent knowledge and wisdom gives life to him that have it in possession. Consider the work of God, how that no man can make the thing straight, which he makes crooked. Use well the time of prosperity and remember the time of misfortune: For God makes 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 perishes for his righteousness sake, and the ungodly lives in his wickedness. Therefore be you neither too righteous or over wise, that you perish not: be neither too unrighteous also nor too foolish, least you die before your time. It is good for you to take hold of this, and not to let that go out of your hand. For he that fears God shall *escape them all. (kjv = come forth of them all.)
Wisdom gives more courage unto the wise, than ten mighty men of the city. For there is not one just upon earth, that does good, and sins not. Take not heed unto every word that is spoken, least your servant curse you: For your own heart knows, that you yourself also have 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, yes and so deep that I might not reach unto her. I applied my mind also to knowledge, and to seek out *science, (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 pleases God shall escape from her.
Behold (says 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 has wisdom and understanding, to give answer there unto.
*subtleties = crafty, sly, devious. Operating in hidden, insidious and destructive way.
The 8th Chapter
Wisdom makes a mans face to shine, but malice puts it out of favor. Keep the kings commandment (I warn you) and the other that you have made unto God. Be not hasty to go out of his sight, and see you continue in no evil thing: for whatsoever it pleases him, that does he. Like as when a king gives a charge, his commandment is mighty: Even so whom may say unto him: What do you? Whoso keeps the commandment, shall feel no harm: but a wise mans heart discerns both time and manner: For everything will have opportunity and judgment, and this the thing that makes men full of carefulness, and sorrow. And why? A man knows not what is for to come, for who will tell him? Neither is there any man that has power over the spirit, to keep still the spirit, nor 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 has 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: (kjv = who had come and gone from the place of the holy) 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 gives 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 fears not God.
Yet there is a vanity upon the earth: there be just men, unto whom it happens, as though they had the works of the ungodly: Again, there be ungodly, with whom it goes as though they had the works of the righteous. This me think also a vain thing. Therefore I commend gladness, because a man has 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 gives him under the *Son. When I applied mine mind to learn wisdom, and to *know the travail that is in the world
( kjv reads: to see the business that is done upon the earth): (and that of such fashion, that I allowed not my eyes to sleep neither day nor 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: yes 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, yes and their works also are in the hand of God: and there is no man that knows either the love or hate of the thing that he has before him. It happens unto one as unto another: It goes with the righteous as with the ungodly: with the good and clean as with the unclean: with him that offers as with him that offers not: like as goes with the virtuous, so goes it also with the sinner: As it happens unto the *perjured, so happens 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 happens 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. *perjured: false swearing false oaths ;swearing in; as regarding spiritual matters: as it is with those that bind themselves by oath to a corrupt religion or church or any other unworthy organization.
And why? As long as a man lives, 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 nor envied: neither have they anymore part in the world, in all that is done under the Son. Go your way then, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with gladness, for your works please God. Let your garments be always white, and let your head *want (kjv = lack) none ointment. Use your self to live joyfully with your wife whom you love, all the days of the life, which is but vanity, that God has given you under the *Son, all the days of your vanity: for that is your portion in this life, of all your labor and travail that you take under the *Son. Whatsoever you take in your hand to do, do that with all your power: for among the dead, where you go unto, there is neither work, counsel, knowledge nor wisdom.
So I turned me unto other things under the Son, and I saw, that in running, it helps not to be swift: in battle, it helps not to be strong: to feeding, it helps not to be wise: to riches, it helps not to be futile: to be had in favor, it helps not to be cunning: but that all lies in time and fortune. For man knows not his time, but as the fish are taken with the *angle (hook) and as the birds are caught with the snare: Even so are men taken in the perilous time, when it comes 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 destroys 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 thinks, that every man does as foolishly as himself. If a principal spirit be given you to bear rule, be not negligent in your 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 sets 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 digs up a pit, shall fall therein himself: and whoso breaks down the hedge, a serpent shall bite him. Whoso removes stones shall have travail withal: and he that hews 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 does wisdom follow diligence. A babbler of his tongue is no better than a serpent that stings 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 you, (O' you realm and land) whos king is but a child, and whose princes are early at their banquettes. But well is the (O' you 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 rains at the house. Meat makes men to laugh, and wine makes them merry: but unto money all things are obedient. Wish the king no evil in your thought, and speak no hurt of the rich in your privy chamber: for a bird of the air shall betray your voice, and with her feathers shall she betray your words. *balcks = balks; a wooden beam or rafter. RN
The 11th Chapter
Send your vitals over the waters, and so shall you find them after many years. Give it away among seven or eight, for you know not what misery shall come upon the earth. When the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth. And when the tree falls (whether it be toward the South or North) in what place so ever it fall, there it lies. He that regards the wind, shall not sow: and he that has respect unto the clouds, shall not reap. Now like as you know not the way of the wind, nor how the bones are filled in a mothers womb: Even so you know not the works of God, which is the workmaster of all.
Cease not you therefore with your hands to sow your seed, whether it be in the morning or in the evening: for then know 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' you young man) in your youth, and let your heart be merry in your young days: follow the ways of your own heart, and the lust of your eyes: but be you sure, that God shall bring you into judgment for all these things.
The 12th Chapter
Put away displeasure out of your heart, and remove evil from your body: for childhood and youth is but vanity. Remember your maker in your youth, or ever the days of adversity come, and or the years draw nigh, when you shall 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 goes 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 where it came, and the spirit return unto God, which gave it. All is but vanity (says 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 you make not many and innumerable books, nor take diverse doctrines in hand, to weary your body withal.
Let us hear the conclusion of things: Fear God, and keep his commandments, for *that touches all men: (kjv = this is the whole duty of man) For God shall judge all works and secret things, whether they be good, or evil.
The end of the book of the Preacherotherwise called Ecclesiastes
Table of Contents