Ecclesiastes 1
Contemporary English Version

Nothing Makes Sense

1When the son of David was king in Jerusalem, he was known to be very wise,+ and he said:

2Nothing makes sense!

Everything is nonsense.

I have seen it all—

nothing makes sense!

3What is there to show

for all of our hard work

here on this earth?

4 People come, and people go,

but still the world

never changes.

5The sun comes up,

the sun goes down;

it hurries right back

to where it started from.

6The wind blows south,

the wind blows north;

round and round it blows

over and over again.

7All rivers empty into the sea,

but it never spills over;

one by one the rivers return

to their source.+

8All of life is far more boring

than words could ever say.

Our eyes and our ears

are never satisfied

with what we see and hear.

9Everything that happens

has happened before;

nothing is new,

nothing under the sun.

10Someone might say,

“Here is something new!”

But it happened before,

long before we were born.

11No one who lived in the past

is remembered anymore,

and everyone yet to be born

will be forgotten too.

It Is Senseless To Be Wise

12I said these things when I lived in Jerusalem as king of Israel. 13With all my wisdom I tried to understand everything that happens here on earth. And God has made this so hard for us humans to do. 14I have seen it all, and everything is just as senseless as chasing the wind.+

15If something is crooked,

it can't be made straight;

if something isn't there,

it can't be counted.

16 I said to myself, “You are by far the wisest person who has ever lived in Jerusalem. You are eager to learn, and you have learned a lot.” 17Then I decided to find out all I could about wisdom and foolishness. Soon I realized that this too was as senseless as chasing the wind.+

18The more you know,

the more you hurt;

the more you understand,

the more you suffer.


1.1 known to be very wise: This stands for the Hebrew word often translated “preacher” or “teacher.” The word may refer to someone who was a very wise leader or to someone who had become wise from collecting sayings about wisdom.
1.7 return to their source: Or “flow into the sea.”
1.14 chasing the wind: Or “eating the wind.”
1.17 chasing the wind: See the note at 1.14.

Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®)

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