The Futility of All Activity

Ecclesiastes 1:1–9

Persian–Hellenistic Period, 6th–3rd Century BCE

1The words of Kohelethason of David, king in Jerusalem.

2Utter futility!—said Koheleth—
Utter futility! All is futile!
3What real value is there for a man
In all the gainsbhe makes beneath the sun?
4One generation goes, another comes,
But the earth remains the same forever.
5The sun rises, and the sun sets—
And glides back to where it rises.
6Southward blowing,
Turning northward,
Ever turning blows the wind;
On its rounds the wind returns.
7All streams flow into the sea,
Yet the sea is never full;
To the place [from] which they flow
The streams flow back again.c
8All such things are wearisome:
No man can ever state them;
The eye never has enough of seeing,
Nor the ear enough of hearing.
9Only that shall happen
Which has happened,
Only that occur
Which has occurred;
There is nothing new
Beneath the sun! [ . . . ]


Probably “the Assembler,” i.e., of hearers or of sayings.

Heb. amal usually has this sense in Ecclesiastes.

According to popular belief, through tunnels.


Reprinted from Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 1985 by the Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia.

Published in: The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, vol. 1.

Engage with this Source

You may also like