1. I said in my heart: “I will go forth and overflow with delights, and I will enjoy good things.” And I saw that this, too, is emptiness.
2. Laughter, I considered an error. And to rejoicing, I said: “Why are you being deceived, to no purpose?”
3. I decided in my heart to withdraw my flesh from wine, so that I might bring my mind to wisdom, and turn away from foolishness, until I see what is useful for the sons of men, and what they ought to do under the sun, during the number of the days of their life.
4. I magnified my works. I built houses for myself, and I planted vineyards.
5. I made gardens and orchards. And I planted them with trees of every kind.
6. And I dug out fishponds of water, so that I might irrigate the forest of growing trees.
7. I obtained men and women servants, and I had a great family, as well as herds of cattle and great flocks of sheep, beyond all who were before me in Jerusalem.
8. I amassed for myself silver and gold, and the wealth of kings and governors. I chose men and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, bowls and pitchers for the purpose of pouring wine.
9. And I surpassed in opulence all who were before me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also persevered with me.
10. And all that my eyes desired, I did not refuse them. Neither did I prohibit my heart from enjoying every pleasure, and from amusing itself in the things that I had prepared. And I regarded this as my share, as if I were making use of my own labors.
11. But when I turned myself toward all the works that my hands had made, and to the labors in which I had perspired to no purpose, I saw emptiness and affliction of the soul in all things, and that nothing is permanent under the sun.
12. I continued on, so as to contemplate wisdom, as well as error and foolishness. “What is man,” I said, “that he would be able to follow his Maker, the King?”
13. And I saw that wisdom surpasses foolishness, so much so that they differ as much as light from darkness.
14. The eyes of a wise man are in his head. A foolish man walks in darkness. Yet I learned that one would pass away like the other.
15. And I said in my heart: “If the death of both the foolish and myself will be one, how does it benefit me, if I have given myself more thoroughly to the work of wisdom?” And as I was speaking within my own mind, I perceived that this, too, is emptiness.
16. For there will not be a remembrance in perpetuity of the wise, nor of the foolish. And the future times will cover everything together, with oblivion. The learned die in a manner similar to the unlearned.
17. And, because of this, my life wearied me, since I saw that everything under the sun is evil, and everything is empty and an affliction of the spirit.
18. Again, I detested all my efforts, by which I had earnestly labored under the sun, to be taken up by an heir after me,
19. though I know not whether he will be wise or foolish. And yet he will have power over my labors, in which I have toiled and been anxious. And is there anything else so empty?
20. Therefore, I ceased, and my heart renounced further laboring under the sun.
21. For when someone labors in wisdom, and doctrine, and prudence, he leaves behind what he has obtained to one who is idle. So this, too, is emptiness and a great burden.
22. For how can a man benefit from all his labor and affliction of spirit, by which he has been tormented under the sun?
23. All his days have been filled with sorrows and hardships; neither does he rest his mind, even in the night. And is this not emptiness?
24. Is it not better to eat and drink, and to show his soul the good things of his labors? And this is from the hand of God.
25. So who will feast and overflow with delights as much as I have?
26. God has given, to the man who is good in his sight, wisdom, and knowledge, and rejoicing. But to the sinner, he has given affliction and needless worrying, so as to add, and to gather, and to deliver, to him who has pleased God. But this, too, is emptiness and a hollow worrying of the mind.