Ecclesiastes 9-10

Ch. 9 - A Common Destiny for All

1 So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no one knows whether love or hate awaits them. 2 All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad,[a] the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.

As it is with the good,
    so with the sinful;
as it is with those who take oaths,
    so with those who are afraid to take them.

3 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. 4 Anyone who is among the living has hope[b]—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!

5 For the living know that they will die,
    but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward,
    and even their name is forgotten.
6 Their love, their hate
    and their jealousy have long since vanished;
never again will they have a part
    in anything that happens under the sun.

7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. 8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

11 I have seen something else under the sun:

The race is not to the swift
    or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
    or wealth to the brilliant
    or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

12 Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come:

As fish are caught in a cruel net,
    or birds are taken in a snare,
so people are trapped by evil times
    that fall unexpectedly upon them.

Wisdom Better Than Folly

13 I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me:14 There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. 15 Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.

17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
    than the shouts of a ruler of fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
    but one sinner destroys much good.

Ch. 10

1 As dead flies give perfume a bad smell,
    so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
2 The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
    but the heart of the fool to the left.
3 Even as fools walk along the road,
    they lack sense
    and show everyone how stupid they are.
4 If a ruler’s anger rises against you,
    do not leave your post;
    calmness can lay great offenses to rest.

5 There is an evil I have seen under the sun,
    the sort of error that arises from a ruler:
6 Fools are put in many high positions,
    while the rich occupy the low ones.
7 I have seen slaves on horseback,
    while princes go on foot like slaves.

8 Whoever digs a pit may fall into it;
    whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake.
9 Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them;
    whoever splits logs may be endangered by them.

10 If the ax is dull
    and its edge unsharpened,
more strength is needed,
    but skill will bring success.

11 If a snake bites before it is charmed,
    the charmer receives no fee.

12 Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious,
    but fools are consumed by their own lips.
13 At the beginning their words are folly;
    at the end they are wicked madness—
14     and fools multiply words.

No one knows what is coming—
    who can tell someone else what will happen after them?

15 The toil of fools wearies them;
    they do not know the way to town.

16 Woe to the land whose king was a servant[c]
    and whose princes feast in the morning.
17 Blessed is the land whose king is of noble birth
    and whose princes eat at a proper time—
    for strength and not for drunkenness.

18 Through laziness, the rafters sag;
    because of idle hands, the house leaks.

19 A feast is made for laughter,
    wine makes life merry,
    and money is the answer for everything.

20 Do not revile the king even in your thoughts,
    or curse the rich in your bedroom,
because a bird in the sky may carry your words,
    and a bird on the wing may report what you say.

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 9:2 Septuagint (Aquila), Vulgate and Syriac; Hebrew does not have and the bad.
  2. Ecclesiastes 9:4 Or What then is to be chosen? With all who live, there is hope
  3. Ecclesiastes 10:16 Or king is a child