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Ecclesiastes 2 :: English Standard Version (ESV)

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The Vanity of Self-Indulgence

(cf. 1Ki 4:20–28 )
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:1 - I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.[fn]
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:2 - I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?”
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:3 - I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:4 - I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:5 - I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:6 - I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:7 - I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:8 - I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines,[fn] the delight of the sons of man.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:9 - So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:10 - And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:11 - Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

The Vanity of Living Wisely

Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:12 - So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:13 - Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:14 - The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:15 - Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:16 - For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool!
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:17 - So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.

The Vanity of Toil

Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:18 - I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me,
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:19 - and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:20 - So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun,
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:21 - because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:22 - What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun?
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:23 - For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:24 - There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment[fn] in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God,
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:25 - for apart from him[fn] who can eat or who can have enjoyment?
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:26 - For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
ESV Footnotes
The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath”; also verses 11, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 26 (see note on 1:2)
The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain
Or and make his soul see good
Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts apart from me

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001, 2007, 2011, 2016 by Crossway Books and Bibles, a Publishing Ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

See detailed copyright information.

For more information on this translation, see the ESV Preface.

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