31Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses.
2He sets the time for birth and the time for death,
the time for planting and the time for pulling up,
3the time for killing and the time for healing,
the time for tearing down and the time for building.
4He sets the time for sorrow and the time for joy,
the time for mourning and the time for dancing,
5the time for making love and the time for not making love,
the time for kissing and the time for not kissing.
6He sets the time for finding and the time for losing,
the time for saving and the time for throwing away,
7the time for tearing and the time for mending,
the time for silence and the time for talk.
8He sets the time for love and the time for hate,
the time for war and the time for peace.
9What do we gain from all our work? 10I know the heavy burdens that God has laid on us. 11He has set the right time for everything. He has given us a desire to know the future, but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding what he does. 12So I realized that all we can do is to be happy and do the best we can while we are still alive. 13All of us should eat and drink and enjoy what we have worked for. It is God's gift.
14I know that everything God does will last for ever. You can't add anything to it or take anything away from it. And one thing God does is to make us stand in awe of him. 15Whatever happens or can happen has already happened before. God makes the same thing happen again and again.
16In addition, I have also noticed that in this world you find wickedness where justice and right ought to be. 17I told myself, “God is going to judge the righteous and the evil alike, because every thing, every action, will happen at its own set time.”3.17 Probable text its own set time; Hebrew its own set time there. 18I concluded that God is testing us, to show us that we are no better than animals. 19After all, the same fate awaits human beings and animals alike. One dies just like the other. They are both the same kind of creature. A human being is no better off than an animal, because life has no meaning for either. 20They are both going to the same place — the dust. They both came from it; they will both go back to it. 21How can anyone be sure that the human spirit goes upwards while an animal's spirit goes down into the ground? 22So I realized then that the best thing we can do is to enjoy what we have worked for. There is nothing else we can do.3.22 what we have… do; or our work, because we are going to have to do it anyway. There is no way for us to know what will happen after we die.
41Then I looked again at all the injustice that goes on in this world. The oppressed were weeping, and no one would help them. No one would help them, because their oppressors had power on their side. 2I envy those who are dead and gone; they are better off than those who are still alive. 3But better off than either are those who have never been born, who have never seen the injustice that goes on in this world.
4I have also learnt why people work so hard to succeed: it is because they envy their neighbours. But it is useless. It is like chasing the wind. 5They say that anyone would be a fool to fold his hands and let himself starve to death. 6Perhaps so, but it is better to have only a little, with peace of mind, than to be busy all the time with both hands, trying to catch the wind.
7I have noticed something else in life that is useless. 8Here is a man who lives alone. He has no son, no brother, yet he is always working, never satisfied with the wealth he has. For whom is he working so hard and denying himself any pleasure? This is useless, too — and a miserable way to live.
9Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively. 10If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls, it's just too bad, because there is no one to help him. 11If it is cold, two can sleep together and stay warm, but how can you keep warm by yourself? 12Two people can resist an attack that would defeat one person alone. A rope made of three cords is hard to break.
13-14A man may rise from poverty to become king of his country, or go from prison to the throne, but if in his old age he is too foolish to take advice, he is not as well off as a young man who is poor but intelligent. 15I thought about all the people who live in this world, and I realized that somewhere among them there is a young man who will take the king's place. 16There may be no limit to the number of people a king rules; when he is gone, no one will be grateful for what he has done. It is useless. It is like chasing the wind.
51Be careful about going to the Temple. It is better to go there to learn than to offer sacrifices as foolish people do, people who don't know right from wrong. 2Think before you speak, and don't make any rash promises to God. He is in heaven and you are on earth, so don't say any more than you have to. 3The more you worry, the more likely you are to have bad dreams, and the more you talk, the more likely you are to say something foolish. 4
So when you make a promise to God, keep it as quickly as possible. He has no use for a fool. Do what you promise to do. 5Better not to promise at all than to make a promise and not keep it. 6Don't let your own words lead you into sin, so that you have to tell God's priest that you didn't mean it. Why make God angry with you? Why let him destroy what you have worked for? 7No matter how much you dream, how much useless work you do, or how much you talk, you must still stand in awe of God.
8Don't be surprised when you see that the government oppresses the poor and denies them justice and their rights. Every official is protected by the one over him, and both are protected by still higher officials.
9Even a king depends on the harvest.5.9 Verse 9 in Hebrew is unclear.
10If you love money, you will never be satisfied; if you long to be rich, you will never get all you want. It is useless. 11The richer you are, the more mouths you must feed. All you gain is the knowledge that you are rich. 12Workers may or may not have enough to eat, but at least they can get a good night's sleep. The rich, however, have so much that they stay awake worrying.
13Here is a terrible thing that I have seen in this world: people save up their money for a time when they may need it,5.13 for… it; or to their own hurt. 14and then lose it all in some unlucky deal and end up with nothing left to pass on to their children. 15
We leave this world just as we entered it — with nothing. In spite of all our work there is nothing we can take with us. 16It isn't right! We go just as we came. We labour, trying to catch the wind, and what do we get? 17We have to live our lives in darkness and grief,5.17 Some ancient translations in darkness and grief; Hebrew eating in darkness. worried, angry, and sick.
18This is what I have found out: the best thing anyone can do is to eat and drink and enjoy what he has worked for during the short life that God has given him; this is man's fate. 19If God gives a man wealth and property and lets him enjoy them, he should be grateful and enjoy what he has worked for. It is a gift from God. 20Since God has allowed him to be happy, he will not worry too much about how short life is.