The Futility of All Endeavors

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

“Futility of futilities,” says the Preacher,

“Futility of futilities! All is futility.”

What advantage does a person have in all his work

Which he does under the sun?

A generation goes and a generation comes,

But the earth [a]remains forever.

Also, the sun rises and the sun sets;

And [b]hurrying to its place it rises there again.

[c]Blowing toward the south,

Then turning toward the north,

The wind continues [d]swirling along;

And on its circular courses the wind returns.

All the rivers [e]flow into the sea,

Yet the sea is not full.

To the place where the rivers [f]flow,

There they [g]flow again.

All things are wearisome;

No one can tell it.

The eye is not satisfied with seeing,

Nor is the ear filled with hearing.

What has been, it is what will be,

And what has been done, it is what will be done.

So there is nothing new under the sun.

10 Is there anything of which one might say,

“See this, it is new”?

It has already existed for ages

Which were before us.

11 There is no remembrance of the [h]earlier things,

And of the later things as well, which will occur,

There will be no remembrance of them

Among those who will come later still.

The Futility of Wisdom

12 I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I set my [i]mind to seek and explore by wisdom about everything that has been done under heaven. It is a [j]sorry task with which God has given the sons of mankind to be troubled. 14 I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is futility and striving after wind. 15 What is crooked cannot be straightened, and what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I [k]said to myself, “Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my [l]mind has observed [m]a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I applied my [n]mind to know wisdom and to know insanity and foolishness; I realized that this also is striving after wind. 18 Because in much wisdom there is much grief; and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.


  1. Ecclesiastes 1:4 Lit stands
  2. Ecclesiastes 1:5 Lit panting
  3. Ecclesiastes 1:6 Lit Going
  4. Ecclesiastes 1:6 Lit turning
  5. Ecclesiastes 1:7 Lit go
  6. Ecclesiastes 1:7 Lit go
  7. Ecclesiastes 1:7 Lit go
  8. Ecclesiastes 1:11 Lit first; or former
  9. Ecclesiastes 1:13 Lit heart
  10. Ecclesiastes 1:13 Lit evil
  11. Ecclesiastes 1:16 Lit spoke with my heart, saying
  12. Ecclesiastes 1:16 Lit heart
  13. Ecclesiastes 1:16 Lit an abundance
  14. Ecclesiastes 1:17 Lit heart