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the words of the teacher, chapter 2

November 5, 2007

The search for meaning and purpose  – isn’t that pretty much the definition of life? Throughout chapter 2, the teacher explores all aspects of life in his search for meaning – unhindered pleasure and amassed wealth, great and noble projects and accomplishments, wisdom and foolishness.    

 10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
       I refused my heart no pleasure.
       My heart took delight in all my work,
       and this was the reward for all my labor.

 11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
       and what I had toiled to achieve,
       everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
       nothing was gained under the sun.

 12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,
       and also madness and folly.
       What more can the king’s successor do
       than what has already been done?

 13 I saw that wisdom is better than folly,
       just as light is better than darkness.

 14 The wise man has eyes in his head,
       while the fool walks in the darkness;
       but I came to realize
       that the same fate overtakes them both.

 15 Then I thought in my heart,
       “The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
       What then do I gain by being wise?”
       I said in my heart,
       “This too is meaningless.”

 16 For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
       in days to come both will be forgotten.
       Like the fool, the wise man too must die!

 17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? 23 All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.

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