1. Who compares with the sage? Who else knows how to explain things? Wisdom lights up the face, enlivening a grim expression.
2. Obey the king's command and, because of the divine promise,
3. be in no hurry to depart from it; do not be obstinate in a bad cause, since the king will do as he likes in any case.
4. Since the word of a king is sovereign, what is the point of saying, 'Why do that?'
5. One who obeys the command will come to no harm; the heart of the sage knows the right moment and verdict,
6. for there is a right moment and verdict for everything; but misfortune lies heavy upon anyone
7. who does not know what the outcome will be, no one is going to say how things will turn out.
8. No one can control the wind and stop it from blowing, no one can control the day of death. From war there is no escape, no more can wickedness save the person who commits it.
9. I have seen all this to be so, having carefully studied everything taking place under the sun, while one person tyrannises over another to the former's detriment.
10. And again, I have observed the wicked carried to their graves, and people leaving the holy place and, once out in the city, forgetting how the wicked used to behave; how futile this is too!
11. Because the sentence on the evil-doer is not carried out on the instant, people's hearts are full of desire to do wrong.
12. The sinner who does wrong a hundred times lives on. But this too I know, that there is good in store for people who fear God, because they fear him,
13. but there is no good in store for the wicked because he does not fear God, and so, like a shadow, he will not prolong his days.
14. Another futile thing that happens on earth: upright people being treated as though they were wicked and wicked people being treated as though they were upright. To me this is one more example of futility.
15. And therefore I praise joy, since human happiness lies only in eating and drinking and in taking pleasure; this comes from what someone achieves during the days of life that God gives under the sun.
16. Having applied myself to acquiring wisdom and to observing the activity taking place in the world -- for day and night our eyes enjoy no rest-
17. I have scrutinised God's whole creation: you cannot get to the bottom of everything taking place under the sun; you may wear yourself out in the search, but you will never find it. Not even a sage can get to the bottom of it, even if he says that he has done so.