I said to myself, “Come now, enjoy yourself to the full.” But I found
that this too was futile. For it is silly to be laughing all the time,
what good does it do?
So, after a lot of thinking I decided to try the road of drink, while
still holding steadily to my course of wisdom.
Next I changed my course again and followed the course of folly, so
that I could experience the only happiness most men have throughout their
Then I tried to find fulfillment by inaugurating a great public works
program: homes, vineyards, gardens, parks and orchards for myself, and
reservoirs to hole the water to irrigate my plantations.
Next I bought slaves, both men, and women, and others were born within
my household. I also bred great herds and flocks, more than any of the
kings before me. I collected silver and gold as taxes from many kings and
In the cultural arts, I organized men's and women's choirs and
And then there were my many beautiful concubines.
So I became greater than any of the kings in Jerusalem before me and
with it all I remained clear-eyed, so that I could evaluate all these
things. Anything I wanted, I took, and did not restrain myself from any
joy. I even found great pleasure in hard work. The pleasure was, indeed,
my only reward for all my labors.
But as I looked at everything I tried it was all so useless, a chasing
after the wind, and there was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. Now I
began a study of the comparative virtues of wisdom and folly, and anyone
else would come to the same conclusion I did- That wisdom is of more
value than foolishness, just as the fool will die, so will I. So of what
value is all my wisdom? Then I realized that even wisdom is futile. For
the wide and the fool both die, and in the days to come both will be long
forgotten. So now I have life because it is all so irrational; all is
foolishness, chasing the wind.
And I am disgusted about this, that I must leave the fruits of all my
hard work to others. And who can tell whether my son will be a wise man or
a fool? And yet all I have will be given to him-how discouraging!
So I turned in despair from hard work as the answer to my search for
satisfaction. For though I spend my life searching for wisdom, knowledge,
and skill, I must leave all of it to someone who hasn't done a day's work
in his life; he inherits all my efforts, free of charge. This is not only
foolish, but unfair. So what does a man get for all his hard work? Days
full of sorrow and grief, and restless bitter nights. It is all utterly
So I decided that there was nothing better for a man to do than to
enjoy his food and drink, and his job. Then I realized that even the
pleasure is from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy apart from Him?
For God gives those who please Him with wisdom, knowledge, and joy, but if
a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away from him and gives it
to those who please him. So here, too, we see an example of foolishly
chasing the wind.