Qohlat 21. I said to my heart, "Come, let me [fill your cup] with joy and look at goodness;" and, behold, this too was vanity.
2. Laughingly* I said, "What are these?" And of happiness I asked,* "What is it that you did?"
3. I contemplated in my heart to delight my flesh with wine, but my heart reflected back toward wisdom and picked up understanding until I saw what is good for humanity to perform under the sun, thus I contemplated their lives in my days.
4. I increased my servants, built myself houses and planted myself vineyards.
5. I made myself gardens and paradises, and planted in them fruit trees.
6. I made myself lakes* of water to irrigate from them a teaming forest of trees.
7. I gained servants and maidens for myself, and I had myself many members in my household, and also I had myself many flocks of bulls and sheep, more than anyone who were before me in Jerusalem.
8. I gathered for myself money and gold and the profits from properties; I gathered* for myself the pleasures of humanity; I gathered* [around] myself [male and female] entertainers.
9. I became greater and wealthier, more than all those who were before me in Jerusalem, and even my wisdom grew more.
10. And whatever my eyes sought, I did not deny it from them, and my heart did not refrain from any pleasure, because my heart was glad in whatever I did, and this was my way of thanking all that I did.
11. And I looked at every work that my hands had performed, and at every work that I worked with that I did, and, behold, everything was vanity and turmoil of the spirit, and it was of no benefit under the sun.
12. And I looked to see [what was] wisdom, expediency, and foolishness, because who is the man who surpasses* the king in judgment? Except when he is [in harmony] with his maker.
13. And I saw that there is more benefit in wisdom than in foolishness, as the light is more [beneficial] than darkness.
14. The wise man sees were he is going* but* the fool walks in darkness; yet* I know that the same accident can happen to both* of them.
15. And I said in my heart, "Like the fool, the unexpected may happen to me also." So what is [the use of] more wisdom. And I reckoned* in my heart that this too is vanity.
16. Because the fool speaks from the abundance of his wealth, because there is no remembrance of the wise man by the fool to the end of time,* as of the days that are coming henceforth. And why does the wise man die together with the fool?
17. And I hated life, because all work under the sun made me feel bad, because everything was vanity and the turmoil of the spirit.
18. And I hated every work that I did under the sun, because I had to leave it to the man who came after me.
19. And who knows if he will be wise or foolish? And he shall have authority over every work that I performed and did wisely under the sun, and this too is vanity.
20. And I turned to reconsider what was in my heart regarding everything I had done under the sun.
21. Because there is a man whose work is through wisdom, knowledge and diligence, and to the man who does not work* with it he shows him appreciation, but even this is vanity and a great evil.
22. And what happens to a human being with all his work and with what he wishes in his heart that he works under the sun?
23. Because all his days he suffers pain and he labors in anger, and his heart does not subside even at night, and even this is vanity.
24. There is nothing better for a man except to eat and drink and show himself the blessings of his labors, and this too I see as [coming] from the hand of Maryah.
25. Because who eats and who drinks beside him?
26. Because to the man who is good before him he gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, and to the sinners he gives toil, to increase and gather and to bring it for the one who is good before Maryah, and this too is vanity and the turmoil of spirit.
Translated by Victor Alexander ©2013
*2:2 Lit. Ar. id.: "To laughter."
*2:3 Lit. Ar. id.: "And."
*2:6 Lit. Ar. id.: "Little seas."
*2:8.1 Lit. Ar. id.: "Made."
*2:8.2 Lit. Ar. id.: "Made."
*2:12 Lit. Ar. id.: "Enters behind."
*2:14.1 Lit. Ar. expression: "His eyes on his head."
*2:14.2 Lit. Ar. id.: "And."
*2:14.3 Lit. Ar. id.: "And."
*2:14.4 Lit. Ar. id.: "All."
*2:15 Lit. Ar. id.: "Spoke."
*2:16 Lit. Ar. id.: "L'allam," or "To the end of the universe."
*2:21 Lit. Ar. idiom retained: "Contribute anything."
Mar. 15, 2013
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