The Futility of Pleasure and Possessions

I said [a]to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So [b]enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility. I said of laughter, “It is senseless,” and of pleasure, “What does this accomplish?” I explored with my [c]mind how to refresh my body with wine while my [d]mind was guiding me wisely; and how to seize foolishness, until I could see what good there is for the sons of mankind [e]to do under heaven for the few [f]years of their lives. I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself; I made gardens and parks for myself, and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and I had [g]slaves born at home. I also possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. I also amassed for myself silver and gold, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male and female singers, and the pleasures of the sons of mankind: many concubines.

Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me. 10 All that my eyes desired, I did not refuse them. I did not restrain my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor; and this was my reward for all my labor. 11 So I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had [h]exerted, and behold, all was futility and striving after wind, and there was no benefit under the sun.

Wisdom Surpasses Foolishness

12 So I turned to consider wisdom, insanity, and foolishness; for what will the man do who will come after the king, except what has already been done? 13 Then I saw that wisdom surpasses foolishness as light surpasses darkness. 14 The wise person’s eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I know that one and the same fate happens to [i]both of them. 15 Then I said [j]to myself, “As is the fate of the fool, it will also happen to me. Why then have I been extremely wise?” So [k]I said to myself, “This too is futility.” 16 For there is no [l]lasting remembrance of the wise, along with the fool, since in the coming days everything will [m]soon be forgotten. And how the wise and the fool alike die! 17 So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was [n]unhappy to me; because everything is futility and striving after wind.

The Futility of Labor

18 So I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is futility. 20 Therefore I [o]completely despaired over all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun. 21 When there is a person who has labored with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, and then gives his [p]legacy to one who has not labored for it; this too is futility and a great evil. 22 For what does a person get in all his labor and in [q]his striving with which he labors under the sun? 23 Because all his days his activity is painful and irritating; even at night his [r]mind does not rest. This too is futility.

24 There is nothing better for a person than to eat and drink, and show [s]himself some good in his trouble. This too I have seen, that it is from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without [t]Him? 26 For to a person who is good in His sight, He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God’s sight. This too is futility and striving after wind.


  1. Ecclesiastes 2:1 Lit in my heart
  2. Ecclesiastes 2:1 Lit consider with goodness
  3. Ecclesiastes 2:3 Lit heart
  4. Ecclesiastes 2:3 Lit heart
  5. Ecclesiastes 2:3 Lit which they do
  6. Ecclesiastes 2:3 Lit days
  7. Ecclesiastes 2:7 Lit sons
  8. Ecclesiastes 2:11 Lit labored to do
  9. Ecclesiastes 2:14 Lit all of
  10. Ecclesiastes 2:15 Lit in my heart
  11. Ecclesiastes 2:15 Lit I spoke in my heart
  12. Ecclesiastes 2:16 Lit forever
  13. Ecclesiastes 2:16 Lit already
  14. Ecclesiastes 2:17 Lit evil
  15. Ecclesiastes 2:20 Lit turned aside my heart to despair
  16. Ecclesiastes 2:21 Lit share
  17. Ecclesiastes 2:22 Lit the striving of his heart
  18. Ecclesiastes 2:23 Lit heart
  19. Ecclesiastes 2:24 Lit his soul
  20. Ecclesiastes 2:25 As in LXX; Heb me