1The words of the Teacher of the Assembly,#Or Gatherer or Convener or Assembler (Heb Qoheleth); see also 1:2, 12; 7:27; 12:8, 9, 10. David’s son, king in Jerusalem:
2Perfectly pointless,#Or meaningless or vapor or puff of air (Heb hebel, which often occurs in the book) says the Teacher, perfectly pointless.
Everything is pointless.
Some things are inevitable
3What do people gain from all the hard work
that they work so hard at under the sun?
4A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains as it always has.
5The sun rises, the sun sets;
it returns panting to the place where it dawns.
6The wind blows to the south,
goes around to the north;
around and around blows the wind;
the wind returns to its rounds again.
7All streams flow to the sea,
but the sea is never full;
to the place where the rivers flow,
there they continue to flow.
8All words#Or things are tiring;
no one is able to speak.
The eye isn’t satisfied with seeing,
neither is the ear filled up by hearing.
9Whatever has happened—that’s what will happen again;
whatever has occurred—that’s what will occur again.
There’s nothing new under the sun. 10People may say about something: "Look at this! It’s new!" But it was already around for ages before us. 11There’s no remembrance of things in the past, nor of things to come in the future. Neither will there be any remembrance among those who come along in the future.
The Teacher’s quest
12I am the Teacher. I was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
13I applied my mind to investigate and to explore by wisdom all that happens under heaven. It’s an unhappy obsession that God has given to human beings.
14When I observed all that happens under the sun, I realized that everything is pointless, a chasing after wind.
15What’s crooked can’t be straightened;
what isn’t there can’t be counted.
16I said to myself, Look here, I have grown much wiser than any who ruled over Jerusalem before me. My mind has absorbed great wisdom and knowledge. 17But when I set my mind to understand wisdom, and also to understand madness and folly, I realized that this too was just wind chasing.
In much wisdom is much aggravation;
the more knowledge, the more pain.