International Standard Version
1The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2"Utterly pointless," says the Teacher. "Absolutely pointless; everything is pointless."
3What does a man gain from all of the work that he undertakes on earth?
4A generation goes, a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.
5The sun rises, the sun sets, then rushes back to where it arose.
6The wind blows southward, then northward, constantly circulating, and the wind comes back again in its courses.
7All the rivers flow toward the sea, but the sea is never full; then rivers return to the headwaters where they began.
8Everything is wearisome, more than man is able to express. The eye is never satisfied by seeing, nor the ear by hearing.
9Whatever has happened, will happen again; whatever has been done, will be done again. There is nothing new on earth.
10Does anything exist about which someone might say, "Look at this! Is this new?" It happened ages ago; it existed before we did.
11No one remembers those in the past, nor will they be remembered by those who come after them.
12I, the Teacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13I dedicated myself to using wisdom for study and discovery of everything that is done under heaven. God uses terrible things so human beings will struggle with life. 14I observed every activity done on earth. My conclusion: all of it is pointless—like chasing after the wind. 15What is crooked cannot be made straight; what is not there cannot be counted.
16I told myself, "I have become greater and wiser than anyone who ruled before me in Jerusalem—yes, I have acquired a great deal of wisdom and knowledge." 17So I dedicated myself to learn about wisdom and knowledge, and about insanity and foolishness. And I discovered that this is also like chasing after the wind. 18For with much wisdom there is much sorrow; the more someone adds to knowledge, the more someone adds to grief.