God Has Ordained the Ebb and Flow of Human Activities
1For everything there is an appointed time, a time for every matter under heaven:
2a time to bear#Or “a time to be born”; MT reads the active form “to bear children” and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to root up what is planted;
3a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to break down and a time to build up;
4a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
5a time to throw away stones and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
6a time to seek and a time to lose;
a time to keep and a time to throw away;
7a time to tear and a time to sew;
a time to be silent and a time to speak;
8a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
9What does the worker gain in his toil?
No One Understands God’s Mysterious Plan
10I have seen the busyness God gives to humans#Literally “the sons of the man” to preoccupy#Or “to be busy” them. 11He has made everything suitable in its time. He also has put the past#Literally “eternity” in their hearts, yet no one can grasp what God does from the beginning to the end. 12So I realized that there is nothing better#Literally “no good” for them than to rejoice and enjoy themselves#Literally “to rejoice and to do good” during their lives. 13And for anyone to eat and drink, that is, to enjoy the fruit of all his toil,#Literally “to see good in all his toil” this also is a gift of God.
14I know everything God does endures forever;
nothing can be added to it, and nothing can be taken from it,
for God so acts that humans#Or “they” might stand in awe before him.
15What is—it already was,
and what will be—it already is,
for God will do what he has done.#Literally “God seeks what is pursued”
God’s Mysterious Plan Allows Injustice to Exist in the World
16I saw something else under the sun: instead of justice there was evil; instead of righteousness there was wickedness. 17So I said to myself,#Literally “in my heart” “God will surely judge the righteous and the wicked, for he has appointed#The MT reads שָׁם “there,” but repointing to שָׂם, “he has appointed,” makes better sense a time of judgment for every deed and every work.”
18I said to myself concerning humans,#Literally “the sons of the man” “God sifts#Or “tests” them in order to show#The MT reads active “to see,” but causative “to show” is reflected by LXX, Syriac Peshitta, and Latin Vulgate them that they are like beasts.” 19For the fate of humans#Literally “the sons of the man” and the fate of the beast is the same.#Literally “is one” The death of the one is like the death of the other, for both are mortal.#Literally “and one breath is for all” Man has no advantage over the beast, for both are fleeting. 20Both go to one place—both came from dust and both return to dust. 21For no one knows whether the spirit of a human ascends to heaven and whether the spirit of the beast descends to the ground!
22So I concluded that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy the fruit of his labor, for this is his lot in life. For no one knows what will happen in the future.#Literally “For who can bring him to see in what will be after him?”