A Disillusioned View of Life
1A good name is better than precious ointment;
and the day of death, than the day of birth.
2It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting;
for this is the end of all men,
and the living will lay it to heart.
3Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of countenance the heart is made glad.
4The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning;
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
5It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise
than to hear the song of fools.
6For as the crackling of thorns under a pot,
so is the laughter of the fools;
this also is vanity.
7Surely oppression makes the wise man foolish,
and a bribe corrupts the mind.
8Better is the end of a thing than its beginning;
and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
9Be not quick to anger,
for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
10Say not, "Why were the former days better than these?"
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
11Wisdom is good with an inheritance,
an advantage to those who see the sun.
12For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money;
and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.
13Consider the work of God;
who can make straight what he has made crooked?
14In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.
The Riddles of Life
15In my vain life I have seen everything; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evil-doing. 16Be not righteous overmuch, and do not make yourself overwise; why should you destroy yourself? 17Be not wicked overmuch, neither be a fool; why should you die before your time? 18It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand; for he who fears God shall come forth from them all.
19Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers that are in a city.
20Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.
21Do not give heed to all the things that men say, lest you hear your servant cursing you; 22your heart knows that many times you have yourself cursed others.
23All this I have tested by wisdom; I said, "I will be wise"; but it was far from me. 24That which is, is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out? 25I turned my mind to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the sum of things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness which is madness. 26And I found more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are fetters; he who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her. 27Behold, this is what I found, says the Preacher, adding one thing to another to find the sum, 28which my mind has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found, but a woman among all these I have not found. 29Behold, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many devices.