That which befalls the sons of men befalls beasts. One thing befalls them. As the one dies, so dies the other. Yes, they have all one breath. So that a man has no preeminence above a beast. For all is vanity.
I am A Man of Letters. I’ve been reading lately, and I have found some words I would like to share. Today, selections from “Ecclesiastes.” It was composed by an anonymous author in the Third Century.
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, King in Jerusalem.
Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
What profit has a man of all his labor which he makes under the sun?
One generation passes away, and another generation comes: but the Earth abides forever.
The sun also arises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where he arose.
The wind goes toward the south, and turns about to the north; it whirls about continually, and the wind returns again according to its circuits.
All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; unto the place from which the rivers come, there they return again.
All things are full of labor – man cannot utter it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
The thing that has been is that which will be. And that which is done today is that which will be done tomorrow. And there is no new thing under the sun.
Is there any thing whereof it may be said, see, this is new? It has been already of old time, which was before us.
There is no remembrance of former things. Neither will there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that will come after.
I, the Preacher, was King over Israel in Jerusalem.
And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under Heaven. This sore travail has God given to the sons of man to be exercised.
I have seen all the works that are done under the sun. And, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
That which is crooked cannot be made straight. And that which is wanting cannot be numbered.
I communed with my own heart, saying, lo, I am come to great estate, and have acquired more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem. Yes, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.
And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.
For in much wisdom is much grief. And he that increases knowledge increases sorrow.
I said in my heart, go now, I will prove you with mirth, and therefore enjoy pleasure. And, behold, this also is vanity.
I said of laughter, it is mad, and mirth, what does it do?
I sought in my heart to give myself to wine, and yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom. And to lay hold on folly, till I might see what it was that is good for the sons of men, what they should do under Heaven all the days of their life.
I made great works. I built houses. I planted vineyards.
I made gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits.
I made pools of water, to water the wood that brings forth trees.
I got servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house. Also I had great possessions of large and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me.
I gathered also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces. I got men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts.
So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.
And whatever my eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labor. And this was my portion of all my labor.
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do. And, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.
And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly. For what can the man do that comes after the King? That which has been already done.
Then I saw that wisdom exceeds folly, as far as the light exceeds darkness.
The wise man’s eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And I myself perceived also that one event happens to them all.
Then said I in my heart, as it happens to the fool, so it happens even to me, and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.
For there is no remembrance of the wise forever more than of the fool, seeing that which now is in the days to come will all be forgotten. And how dies the wise man? As the fool.
Therefore I hated life because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous to me. For all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
Yes, I hated all my labor which I had taken under the sun, because I should leave it unto the man that will be after me.
And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet will he have rule over all my labor wherein I have labored, and where I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity.
Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labor which I took under the sun.
For there is a man whose labor is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity. Yet to a man that has not labored therein will he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.
For what has man of all his labor, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he has labored under the sun?
For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yes, his heart takes no rest in the night. This is also vanity.
There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy his labor. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.
For who can eat, or who else can hasten to here, more than I?
For God gives to a man that is good in His sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy. But to the sinner He giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
A time to be born, and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.
A time to kill, and a time to heal. A time to break down, and a time to build up.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh. A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together. A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.
A time to get, and a time to lose. A time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew. A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate. A time of war, and a time of peace.
What profit has he that works in that wherein he labors?
I have seen the travail, which God has given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
He has made every thing beautiful in His time. Also He has set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God makes from the beginning to the end.
I know that there is no good in them but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.
And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor. It is the gift of God.
I know that, whatever God does, it will be forever. Nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it. And God does it that men should fear before Him.
That which has been is now, and that which is to be has already been, and God requires that which is past.
And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment – wickedness was there. And in the place of righteousness – iniquity was there.
I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked. For there is a time for every purpose and for every work.
I said in my heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.
For that which befalls the sons of men befalls beasts. One thing befalls them. As the one dies, so dies the other. Yes, they have all one breath. So that a man has no preeminence above a beast. For all is vanity.
All go to one place. All are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
Who knows that the spirit of man goes upward, and that the spirit of the beasts goes downward to the Earth?
Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works. For that is his portion. For who will bring him to see what will be after him?
Thank you for listening. For more information about the words I have read, please visit A Man of Letters. amoletters.com.
Until I return, I am A Man of Letters.