Ecclesiastes Chapter 1 to 3 : Easy-to-Read Version  | SearchSearch | Next Version | Previous Page | Next Page |

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1 These are the words from the Teacher. The Teacher was a son of David and king of Jerusalem. 2Everything is so meaningless. The Teacher says that it is all a waste of time!* 3Do people really gain anything from all the hard work they do in this life?* {No!}

Things Never Change

4People live and people die. But the earth continues forever. 5The sun rises and the sun goes down. And then the sun hurries to rise again in the same place. 6The wind blows to the south, and the wind blows to the north. The wind blows around and around. Then the wind turns and blows back to the place it began. 7All rivers flow again and again to the same place. They all flow to the sea, but the sea doesn’t become full. 8Words can’t fully explain things.* But people continue speaking.* Words come again and again to our ears. But our ears don’t become full. And our eyes don’t become full of the things we see.

Nothing is New

9All things continue the way they have been since the beginning. The same things will be done that have always been done. There is nothing new in this life.* 10A person might say, “Look, this is new!” But that thing has always been here. It was here before we were! 11People don’t remember the things that happened long ago. In the future, people will not remember what is happening now. And later, other people will not remember what those people before them did.

Does Wisdom Bring Happiness?

12I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13I decided to study and to use my wisdom to learn about all the things that are done in this life. I learned that it is a very hard thing that God gave us to do. 14I looked at all the things done on earth, and I saw that it is all a waste of time. It is like trying to catch the wind.* 15{You can’t change these things.} If something is crooked, you can’t say it is straight. And if something is missing, you can’t say it is there. 16I said to myself, “I am very wise. I am wiser than all the kings that ruled Jerusalem before me. I know what wisdom and knowledge really are!” 17I decided to learn how wisdom and knowledge are better than thinking foolish things. But I learned that trying to become wise is like trying to catch the wind.* 18With much wisdom comes frustration. The person that gains more wisdom also gains more sorrow.

meaningless … a waste of time The Hebrew word means “vapor or breath” or “something that is useless, meaningless, empty, wrong, or a waste of time.” in this life Literally, “under the sun.” Words can’t fully explain things Literally, “All words (things) are weak.” But people continue speaking The Hebrew could also be translated, “Man can’t speak.” trying to catch the wind Or, “It is very troubling to the spirit.” The word for “troubling” can also mean “craving” and the word for “spirit” can also mean “wind.”

Does “Having Fun” Bring Happiness?

2 I said to myself, “I should have fun—I should enjoy everything the most I can.” But I learned that this is also useless. 2It is foolish to laugh all the time. Having fun doesn’t do any good. 3So I decided to fill my body with wine while I filled my mind with wisdom. I tried this foolishness because I wanted to find a way to be happy. I wanted to see what was good for people to do during their few days of life.

Does Hard Work Bring Happiness?

4Then I began doing great things. I built houses, and I planted fields of grapes for myself. 5I planted gardens, and I made parks. I planted all kinds of fruit trees. 6I made pools of water for myself. And I used these pools to water my growing trees. 7I bought men slaves and women slaves. And there were slaves born in my house. I owned many great things. I had herds of cattle and flocks of sheep. I owned more things than any other person in Jerusalem. 8I also gathered silver and gold for myself. I took treasures from kings and their nations. I had men and women singing for me. I had everything anyone could want. 9I became very rich and famous. I was greater than any person that lived in Jerusalem before me. And my wisdom was always there to help me. 10Anything my eyes saw and wanted, I got for myself. My mind was pleased with all the things I did. And this happiness was the reward for all my hard work. 11But then I looked at all the things I had done. I thought about all the hard work I did. I decided it was all a waste of time! It was like trying to catch the wind.* There is nothing to gain from all the things we do in this life.

Maybe Wisdom Is the Answer

12No person can do more than a king can do. Some king has already done anything you might want to do.* {And I learned that even the things a king does are a waste of time.} So I again began to think about being wise, being foolish, and doing crazy things. 13I saw that wisdom is better than foolishness in the same way that light is better than darkness. 14It is like this: A wise man uses his mind like eyes to see where he is going. But a fool is like someone walking in the dark. But I also saw that the foolish man and the wise man both end the same way. {They both die.} 15I thought to myself, “The same thing that happens to a foolish person will also happen to me. So why have I tried so hard to become wise?” I said to myself, “Being wise is also useless.” 16The wise man and the foolish person will both die! And people will not remember either the wise man or the foolish person forever. In the future, people will forget everything they did. So both the wise man and the foolish person are really the same.

Is There Real Happiness in Life?

17This made me hate life. It made me very sad to think that everything in this life* is useless, like trying to catch the wind.* 18I began to hate all the hard work I had done. I had worked hard, but I saw that the people that live after me will get the things that I worked for. I will not be able to take those things with me. 19Some other person will control everything I worked and studied for. And I don’t know if that person will be wise or foolish. This is also senseless. 20So, I became sad about all the work I had done. 21A person can work hard using all his wisdom and knowledge and skill. But that person will die and other people will get the things he worked for. Those people did not do the work, but they will get everything. That makes me very sad. That is also not fair and is senseless. 22What does a person really have after all his work and struggling in this life?* 23All his life he has pain, frustrations, and hard work. Even at night, a person’s mind does not rest. This is also senseless. 24–25Is there any person that tried to enjoy life more than I have? No! And this is what I learned: The best thing a person can do is eat, drink, and enjoy the work he must do. I also saw that this comes from God.* 26If a person does good and pleases God, then God will give that person wisdom, knowledge, and joy. But a person that sins will get only the work of gathering and carrying things. God takes from the bad person and gives to the good person. But all this work is useless. It is like trying to catch the wind.*

trying to catch the wind Or, “It is very troubling to the spirit.” The word for “troubling” can also mean “craving” and the word for “spirit” can also mean “wind.” No person … want to do The Hebrew is not clear here. in this life Literally, “under the sun.” Is there … from God Or, “24The best a person can do is eat, drink, and enjoy his work. I also saw this comes from God. 25No one can eat or enjoy life without God.”

There Is a Time …

3 There is a right time for everything. And everything on earth will happen at the right time. 2There is a time to be born, and a time to die. There is a time to plant, and a time to pull up plants. 3There is a time to kill, and a time to heal. There is a time to destroy, and a time to build. 4There is a time to cry, and a time to laugh. There is a time to be sad, and a time to dance from joy. 5There is a time to throw weapons down, and a time to pick them up.* There is a time to hug someone, and a time to stop holding so tightly. 6There is a time to look for something, and a time to consider it lost. There is a time to keep things, and a time to throw things away. 7There is a time to tear cloth, and there is a time to sew it. There is a time to be silent, and a time to speak. 8There is a time to love, and a time to hate. There is a time for war, and a time for peace.

God Controls His World

9Does a person really gain anything from his hard work? {No!} 10I saw all the hard work God gave us to do. 11God gave us the ability to think about his world.* But we can never completely understand everything God does. And yet, God does everything at just the right time. 12I learned that the best thing for people to do is to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live. 13God wants every person to eat, drink, and enjoy his work. These are gifts from God. 14I learned that anything God does will continue forever. People can’t add anything to the work of God. And people can’t take anything away from the work of God. God did this so people would respect him. 15Things that happened in the past have happened, {and we can’t change them}. And things that will happen in the future will happen, {and we can’t change them}. But God wants to help people that have been treated badly.* 16I also saw these things in this life.* I saw that the courts should be filled with goodness and fairness—but there is evil there now. 17So I said to myself, “God has planned a time for everything. And God has planned a time to judge everything people do. God will judge the good people and the bad people.”

Are People Just Like Animals?

18I thought about the things people do to each other. And I said to myself, “God wants people to see that they are like animals. 19Is a man better than an animal? {No!} Why? Because everything is useless. The same thing happens to animals and to people—they die. People and animals have the same “breath.”* Is a dead animal different from a dead person? 20The bodies of people and animals end the same way. They came from the earth, and in the end they will go back to the earth. 21Who knows what happens to the spirit of a man? Who knows if a man’s spirit goes up to God while an animal’s spirit goes down into the ground? 22So I saw that the best thing a person can do is to enjoy what he does. That is all he has. {Also a person should not worry about the future.} Why? Because no one can help that person see what will happen in the future.

There is a time to … pick them up Literally, “There is a time to throw stones away, and a time to gather stones.” the ability to think about his world Or, “a desire to know the future.” Verse 15 Or, “What happens now also happened in the past. The things that happen in the future have also happened before. God makes things happen again and again.” in this life Literally, “under the sun.” breath Or, “spirit.”

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