The Same Fate—Death—Awaits Everyone
1So all this I laid to my heart, and I concluded#Or “examined” that the righteous and the wise, as well as their deeds, are in the hand of God. So no one knows anything that will come to them, whether it will be love or hatred. 2The same fate comes to everyone:
to the righteous and to the wicked,
to the good and to the wicked,#Several versions (Greek, Syriac, Latin) insert “and to the bad”
to the clean and to the unclean,
to those who sacrifice and to those who do not sacrifice.
As with the good man, so also to the sinner;
as with those who swear an oath, so also those who fear oaths.
3This is the injustice#Literally “evil” that is done under the sun:
the same fate comes to everyone.
Also the hearts of humans#Literally “the sons of the man” are full of evil;
delusion is in their hearts during their lives, and then they die.
Death Deprives Humans of Everything in Life
4Whoever is joined#The Kethib reads “chosen,” but the Qere as well as all the versions and numerous medieval Hebrew manuscripts read “joined” to all the living has hope. After all, even a live dog is better than a dead lion! 5For the living know that they will die, but the dead do not know anything. They no longer have a reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. 6What they loved and hated, as well as what they desired, has already perished. They no longer have any share in what is done under the sun.
Enjoy Life While It Lasts
7Go—eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart! For God already has approved your deeds. 8Always be clothed in white garments, and never let your head lack oil! 9Enjoy life with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which he gives you under the sun, because this is your lot in life and in the toil with which you toil under the sun. 10Whatever your hand finds to do—do it with all your might; for in Sheol—where you are going—no one works, plans, knows, or thinks about anything.
The Injustice of Time and Chance
11I looked again and saw under the sun that the race does not belong to the swift, the battle does not belong to the mighty, food does not belong to the wise, wealth does not belong to the intelligent, and success#Or “favor” does not belong to the skillful, for time and chance befalls all of them. 12For man does not know his time. Just as fish are caught in a cruel net and like birds who are seized in a snare, so also humans#Literally “the sons of the man” are ensnared at a cruel time when it falls suddenly upon them.
Wisdom—Although Vulnerable—is Superior to Power
13I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me. 14There was a small city with few people in it. A great king came and besieged it, building great siege works against it. 15Now, a poor wise man was found in it, and he delivered the city by his wisdom. 16So I concluded that wisdom is better than might, yet the wisdom of the poor is despised, and his words are not heard.
Wisdom—Although Vulnerable—is Superior to Folly
17The words of the wise are heard in peace
more than the shouting of a ruler is heard among the fools.
18Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
but one sinner destroys much good.