New English Translation
Everyone Will Die
1 So I reflected on all this, attempting to clear it all up. I concluded that the righteous and the wise, as well as their works, are in the hand of God; whether a person will be loved or hated - no one knows what lies ahead.
2 Everyone shares the same fate - the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the ceremonially clean and unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. What happens to the good person, also happens to the sinner; what happens to those who make vows, also happens to those who are afraid to make vows.
3 This is the unfortunate fact about everything that happens on earth: the same fate awaits everyone. In addition to this, the hearts of all people are full of evil, and there is folly in their hearts during their lives - then they die.
Better to Be Poor but Alive than Rich but Dead
4 But whoever is among the living has hope; a live dog is better than a dead lion.
5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead do not know anything; they have no further reward - and even the memory of them disappears.
6 What they loved, as well as what they hated and envied, perished long ago, and they no longer have a part in anything that happens on earth.
Life is Brief, so Cherish its Joys
7 Go, eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, because God has already approved your works.
8 Let your clothes always be white, and do not spare precious ointment on your head.
9 Enjoy life with your beloved wife during all the days of your fleeting life that God has given you on earth during all your fleeting days; for that is your reward in life and in your burdensome work on earth.
10 Whatever you find to do with your hands, do it with all your might, because there is neither work nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom in the grave, the place where you will eventually go.
Wisdom Cannot Protect against Seemingly Chance Events
11 Again, I observed this on the earth: the race is not always won by the swiftest, the battle is not always won by the strongest; prosperity does not always belong to those who are the wisest, wealth does not always belong to those who are the most discerning, nor does success always come to those with the most knowledge - for time and chance may overcome them all.
12 Surely, no one knows his appointed time! Like fish that are caught in a deadly net, and like birds that are caught in a snare - just like them, all people are ensnared at an unfortunate time that falls upon them suddenly.
Most People Are Not Receptive to Wise Counsel
13 This is what I also observed about wisdom on earth, and it is a great burden to me:
14 There was once a small city with a few men in it, and a mighty king attacked it, besieging it and building strong siege works against it.
15 However, a poor but wise man lived in the city, and he could have delivered the city by his wisdom, but no one listened to that poor man.
16 So I concluded that wisdom is better than might, but a poor man's wisdom is despised; no one ever listens to his advice.
Wisdom versus Fools, Sin, and Folly
17 The words of the wise are heard in quiet, more than the shouting of a ruler is heard among fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner can destroy much that is good.
King James Version
1 For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them.
2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.
3 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
4 ¶ For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
7 ¶ Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.
8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.
9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.
10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
11 ¶ I returned, and saw under the sun, 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; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
12 For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.
13 ¶ This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me:
14 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:
15 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.
16 Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.
17 The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.