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The Blue Letter Bible

Ecclesiastes 2 :: New International Version (NIV)

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Pleasures Are Meaningless

(cf. 1Ki 4:20–28 )
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:1 - I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:2 - “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?”
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:3 - I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:4 - I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:5 - I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:6 - I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:7 - I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:8 - I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem[fn] as well—the delights of a man’s heart.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:9 - I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:10 - I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:11 - Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

Wisdom and Folly Are Meaningless

Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:12 - Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly. What more can the king’s successor do than what has already been done?
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:13 - I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:14 - The wise have eyes in their heads, while the fool walks in the darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:15 - Then I said to myself, “The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise?” I said to myself, “This too is meaningless.”
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:16 - For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered; the days have already come when both have been forgotten. Like the fool, the wise too must die!

Toil Is Meaningless

Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:17 - So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:18 - I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:19 - And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:20 - So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:21 - For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:22 - What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun?
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:23 - All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:24 - A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:25 - for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?
Unchecked Copy BoxEcc 2:26 - To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
NIV Footnotes
The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.

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