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I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven, till I might see what it was good for the sons of men that they should do all the days of their life.
I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards; I made me gardens and parks, and I planted therein all manner of fruittrees; I made me pools of water, to water therefrom the forest where trees were reared: I bought menservants and maidservants, and had servants born in my house. Also I had great possessions of herds and flocks, above all that were before me in Jerusalem: I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and kingdoms; I gat me mensingers and womensingers, and the delights of the sons of men, musical instruments of all sorts. So was I great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them; I withheld not my heart from any joy.
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was no profit under the sun. And I hated all my labour wherein I had laboured under the sun, seeing that I must leave it unto the man that shall come after me. And who knoweth whether he will be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewn myself wise under the sun. Therefore did my heart despair concerning all the labour wherein I had laboured. For there is a man whose labour is with wisdom, and with knowledge, and with skilfulness; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity! For as he came into the world naked, so shall he go again even as he came, and shall take nothing from his labour, which he may carry away in his hand.
So I returned, and saw under the sun, that there is nothing better for the sons of men than to rejoice in their labour, and to do good so long as they live. This is the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.
ECCLESIASTES II, VII, IX, X
I have seen wisdom under the sun on this wise, and it seemed great unto me: There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it. Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.
There is also an evil which I have seen under the sun, as it were an error which proceedeth from them that rule: Folly is set in great dignity, and men of understanding made to sit in low place. Yea, I have seen fools riding upon horses, and wise men walking behind them as servants!
All this therefore have I laid to mine heart, and searched it out: That the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill. Nevertheless though the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not honoured, yet wisdom is better than strength. The words of the wise, though they be spoken in quiet, are heard more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools. Wisdom is a strength to the wise more than ten rulers which are in a city. Yea, wisdom is better than weapons of war: for wisdom is a defence, even as money is a defence; but the excellency of knowledge is, that if a man have wisdom, it shall preserve his life.
There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun, and it weigheth heavily upon me: There is a righteous man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his evil-doing. Yea, there be righteous men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; also there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous.
Moreover I saw under the sun, in the place of justice, that iniquity was there; and in the place of righteousness, that wickedness was there. And I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold, the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power and violence.
Then I said within myself: Surely this is a vanity, that there should be one event alike to the wicked and to the righteous! For God will judge between the righteous and the wicked, seeing that with him there is a time for every purpose and every work. But because the sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed, therefore the heart of the sons of men is emboldened to do evil. Yet though one do evil an hundred times, and prolong his days withal, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, that truly fear before him: but with the wicked it shall not be well, because he feareth not before God.
All this therefore have I laid to mine heart, and searched it out: That the righteous, and the wicked, and all their works, are in the hand of God; whether it be love or hatred, all is before him. It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also that thou withdraw not thine hand from doing good. And if thou seest the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness, be not thou dismayed thereat; for One higher than the high regardeth. For verily God shall bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.
There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun,
Weary not thyself therefore to be rich;Cease for thine own good.
Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is naught?
For riches certainly make themselves wings, Like an eagle that flieth toward heaven. An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning;
But the end thereof shall not be blessed. Yea, he that trusteth in his riches shall fall: But the righteous shall flourish as the green leaf.