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Reflections of a Royal Philosopher

1The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

2Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher,

vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

3What do people gain from all the toil

at which they toil under the sun?

4A generation goes, and a generation comes,

but the earth remains forever.

5The sun rises and the sun goes down,

and hurries to the place where it rises.

6The wind blows to the south,

and goes around to the north;

round and round goes the wind,

and on its circuits the wind returns.

7All streams run to the sea,

but the sea is not full;

to the place where the streams flow,

there they continue to flow.

8All things are wearisome;

more than one can express;

the eye is not satisfied with seeing,

or the ear filled with hearing.

9What has been is what will be,

and what has been done is what will be done;

there is nothing new under the sun.

10Is there a thing of which it is said,

“See, this is new”?

It has already been,

in the ages before us.

11The people of long ago are not remembered,

nor will there be any remembrance

of people yet to come

by those who come after them.

The Futility of Seeking Wisdom

12I, the Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem, 13applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. 14I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.

15What is crooked cannot be made straight,

and what is lacking cannot be counted.

16I said to myself, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17And I applied my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a chasing after wind.

18For in much wisdom is much vexation,

and those who increase knowledge increase sorrow.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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