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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Chapter 2

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I said to myself, “Come, I will treat you to merriment. Taste mirth!” That too, I found, was futile.

1 2Of revelry I said, “It's mad!” Of merriment, “What good is that?”

3I ventured to tempt my flesh with wine, and to grasp folly, while letting my mind direct with wisdom, to theend that I might learn which of the two was better for men to practice in their few days of life under heaven. 4 I multiplied my possessions. I built myself houses and I planted vineyards. 5 I laid out gardens and groves, in which I planted every kind of fruit tree. 6 I constructed pools of water, enough to irrigate a forest shooting up with trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and I acquired stewards. I also acquired more cattle, both herds and flocks, than all who were before me in Jerusalem. 8 I further amassed silver and gold and treasures of kings and provinces; and I got myself male and female singers, as well as the luxuries of commoners—coffers a The Heb. shiddah occurs only here in the Bible; in the Mishnah it designates a kind of chest. and coffers of them. 9 Thus, I gained more wealth than anyone before me in Jerusalem. In addition, my wisdom remained with me:

10I withheld from my eyes nothing they asked for, and denied myself no enjoyment; rather, I got enjoyment out of b Septuagint and a few Heb. manuscripts have “(in exchange) for”; cf. 2.24; 3.13, 22; 5.17 . all my wealth. And that was all I got out of my wealth.

11Then my thoughts turned to all the fortune my hands had built up, to the wealth I had acquired and won—and oh, it was all futile and pursuit of wind; there was no real value under the sun! 12 c The order of the two sentences in this verse is reversed in the translation for clarity. For what will the man be like who will succeed d‐ Change of vocalization yields “me, and who is to rule”; cf. vv. 18–19 . the one who is ruling ‐d Change of vocalization yields “me, and who is to rule”; cf. vv. 18–19 . over what was built up long ago?

My thoughts also turned to appraising wisdom and madness and folly. 13 I found that

Wisdom is superior to folly As light is superior to darkness; 14A wise man has his eyes in his head, Whereas a fool walks in darkness.

But I also realized that the same fate awaits them both.

15 So I reflected: “The fate of the fool is also destined for me; to what advantage, then, have I been wise?” And I came to the conclusion that that too was futile, 16 because the wise man, just like e See note on 1.11 . the fool, is not remembered forever; for, as the succeeding days roll by, both are forgotten. Alas, the wise man dies, just like e See note on 1.11 . the fool!

17And so I loathed life. For I was distressed by all that goes on under the sun, because everything is futile and pursuit of wind.

18So, too, I loathed all the wealth that I was gaining under the sun. For I shall leave it to the man who will succeed me— 19 and who knows whether he will be wise orfoolish?—and he will control all the wealth that I gained by toil and wisdom under the sun. That too is futile. 20 And so I came to view with despair all the gains I had made under the sun. 21 For sometimes a person whose fortune was made with wisdom, knowledge, and skill must hand it on to be the portion of somebody who did not toil for it. That too is futile, and a grave evil. 22 For what does a man get for all the toiling and worrying he does under the sun? 23 All his days his thoughts are grief and heartache, and even at night his mind has no respite. That too is futile!

24There is nothing worthwhile for a man but to eat and drink and afford himself enjoyment with his means. And even that, I noted, comes from God. 25 For who eats and who enjoys but myself? a Some mss. and ancient versions read mimmennu, “by His doing.” 26 To the man, namely, who pleases Him He has given b‐ Lit. “wisdom and knowledge and enjoyment.” the wisdom and shrewdness to enjoy himself; ‐b Lit. “wisdom and knowledge and enjoyment.” and to him who displeases, He has given the urge to gather and amass—only for handing on to one who is pleasing to God. That too is futile and pursuit of wind.

Notes:

a The Heb. shiddah occurs only here in the Bible; in the Mishnah it designates a kind of chest.

b Septuagint and a few Heb. manuscripts have “(in exchange) for”; cf. 2.24; 3.13, 22; 5.17 .

c The order of the two sentences in this verse is reversed in the translation for clarity.

d‐d Change of vocalization yields “me, and who is to rule”; cf. vv. 18–19 .

e See note on 1.11 .

a Some mss. and ancient versions read mimmennu, “by His doing.”

b‐b Lit. “wisdom and knowledge and enjoyment.”

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