Vanity of Vanities

Ecclesiastes 1:1–12

Works of art by David Bailly, Rachel Ruysch, and Jacob van Ruisdael
Commentaries by Jonathan Anderson

Ecclesiastes 1:1–12

Bible passage (Revised Standard Version)

1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

2Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,

vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

3What does man gain by all the toil

at which he toils under the sun?

4A generation goes, and a generation comes,

but the earth remains for ever.

5The sun rises and the sun goes down,

and hastens to the place where it rises.

6The wind blows to the south,

and goes round to the north;

round and round goes the wind,

and on its circuits the wind returns.

7All streams run to the sea,

but the sea is not full;

to the place where the streams flow,

there they flow again.

8All things are full of weariness;

a man cannot utter it;

the eye is not satisfied with seeing,

nor the ear filled with hearing.

9What has been is what will be,

and what has been done is what will be done;

and there is nothing new under the sun.

10Is there a thing of which it is said,

“See, this is new”?

It has been already,

in the ages before us.

11There is no remembrance of former things,

nor will there be any remembrance

of later things yet to happen

among those who come after.


12 I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem.