New English Translation
Life is Brief and Death is Certain!
1 A good reputation is better than precious perfume; likewise, the day of one's death is better than the day of one's birth.
2 It is better to go to a funeral than a feast. For death is the destiny of every person, and the living should take this to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter, because sober reflection is good for the heart.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of merrymaking.
Frivolous Living Versus Wisdom
5 It is better for a person to receive a rebuke from those who are wise than to listen to the song of fools.
6 For like the crackling of quick-burning thorns under a cooking pot, so is the laughter of the fool. This kind of folly also is useless.
Human Wisdom Overturned by Adversity
7 Surely oppression can turn a wise person into a fool; likewise, a bribe corrupts the heart.
8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning; likewise, patience is better than pride.
9 Do not let yourself be quickly provoked, for anger resides in the lap of fools.
10 Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these days?" for it is not wise to ask that.
Wisdom Can Lengthen One's Life
11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing; it benefits those who see the light of day.
12 For wisdom provides protection, just as money provides protection. But the advantage of knowledge is this:Wisdom preserves the life of its owner.
Wisdom Acknowledges God's Orchestration of Life
13 Consider the work of God: For who can make straight what he has bent?
14 In times of prosperity be joyful, but in times of adversity consider this: God has made one as well as the other, so that no one can discover what the future holds.
Exceptions to the Law of Retribution
15 During the days of my fleeting life I have seen both of these things: Sometimes a righteous person dies prematurely in spite of his righteousness, and sometimes a wicked person lives long in spite of his evil deeds.
16 So do not be excessively righteous or excessively wise; otherwise you might be disappointed.
17 Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool; otherwise you might die before your time.
18 It is best to take hold of one warning without letting go of the other warning; for the one who fears God will follow both warnings.
Wisdom Needed Because No One is Truly Righteous
19 Wisdom gives a wise person more protection than ten rulers in a city.
20 For there is not one truly righteous person on the earth who continually does good and never sins.
21 Also, do not pay attention to everything that people say; otherwise, you might even hear your servant cursing you.
22 For you know in your own heart that you also have cursed others many times.
Human Wisdom is Limited
23 I have examined all this by wisdom; I said, "I am determined to comprehend this" - but it was beyond my grasp.
24 Whatever has happened is beyond human understanding; it is far deeper than anyone can fathom.
True Righteousness and Wisdom are Virtually Nonexistent
25 I tried to understand, examine, and comprehend the role of wisdom in the scheme of things, and to understand the stupidity of wickedness and the insanity of folly.
26 I discovered this: More bitter than death is the kind of woman who is like a hunter's snare; her heart is like a hunter's net and her hands are like prison chains. The man who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is captured by her.
27 The Teacher says: I discovered this while trying to discover the scheme of things, item by item.
28 What I have continually sought, I have not found; I have found only one upright man among a thousand, but I have not found one upright woman among all of them.
29 This alone have I discovered: God made humankind upright, but they have sought many evil schemes.
King James Version
1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.
2 ¶ It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.
6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.
7 ¶ Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.
8 Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.
10 Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.
11 ¶ Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun.
12 For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.
13 Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?
14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.
15 All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.
16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?
17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?
18 It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.
19 Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.
20 For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
21 Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:
22 For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.
23 ¶ All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me.
24 That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?
25 I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness:
26 And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.
27 Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account:
28 Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found.
29 Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.