2 I said about laughter, “It is madness!”
And about pleasure,* “What use is it?”
3 I explored with my heart by indulging myself with wine,+ all the while maintaining my own wisdom; I even embraced foolishness to find out what was the best thing for humans to do during their few days of life under the heavens. 4 I undertook great works.+ I built houses for myself;+ I planted vineyards for myself.+ 5 I made gardens and parks for myself, and I planted in them all sorts of fruit trees. 6 I made pools of water for myself, to irrigate a grove* of flourishing trees. 7 I acquired male and female servants,+ and I had servants born in my household.* I also acquired much livestock—cattle and flocks+—more than any of my predecessors in Jerusalem. 8 I accumulated silver and gold for myself,+ the treasures of* kings and of provinces.+ I gathered male and female singers for myself, as well as what brings great pleasure to the sons of men—a woman, yes, many women.* 9 So I grew great and surpassed anyone prior to me in Jerusalem.+ And my wisdom remained with me.
10 I did not deny myself anything that I desired.*+ I did not withhold from my heart any sort of pleasure,* for my heart was joyful because of all my hard work, and this was my reward* for all my hard work.+ 11 But when I reflected on all the works that my own hands had done and on all the hard work that I had toiled to accomplish,+ I saw that everything was futile, a chasing after the wind;+ there was nothing of real value* under the sun.+
12 Then I turned my attention to wisdom and madness and folly.+ (For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done.) 13 And I saw that there is an advantage to wisdom over folly,+ just as there is an advantage to light over darkness.
14 The wise one has his eyes in his head;*+ but the stupid one is walking in darkness.+ I have also come to realize that there is one outcome* that befalls all of them.+ 15 Then I said in my heart: “What happens to the stupid one will also happen to me.”+ What, then, did I gain by becoming excessively wise? So I said in my heart: “This too is futility.” 16 For there is no lasting memory either of the wise one or of the stupid one.+ In the days to come, everyone will be forgotten. And how will the wise one die? Along with the stupid one.+
17 So I came to hate life,+ because everything being done under the sun seemed distressing to me, for everything was futile,+ a chasing after the wind.+ 18 I came to hate all that I had worked so hard for under the sun,+ because I must leave it behind for the man coming after me.+ 19 And who knows whether he will be wise or foolish?+ Yet he will take control over all the things I spent great effort and wisdom to acquire under the sun. This too is futility. 20 So I began to despair in my heart over all the hard work at which I had toiled under the sun. 21 For a man may work hard, guided by wisdom and knowledge and skill, but he must hand over his portion* to a man who did not work for it.+ This too is futility and a great tragedy.*
22 What does a man really gain from all his hard work and ambition that drives him* to work hard under the sun?+ 23 For during all his days, his occupation brings pain and frustration,+ and even at night his heart does not rest.+ This too is futility.
24 There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and find enjoyment* in his hard work.+ This too, I have realized, is from the hand of the true God,+ 25 for who eats and who drinks better than I do?+
26 To the man who pleases him he gives wisdom and knowledge and rejoicing,+ but to the sinner he gives the occupation of gathering and merely collecting to give to the one who pleases the true God.+ This too is futility, a chasing after the wind.