The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Ecclesiastes
Chapter 3
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Everything must be done by turns; no activity, here beneath the heavens, but has its allotted time for beginning and coming to an end.
Men are born only to die, plant trees only to displant them.
Now we take life, now we save it; now we are destroying, now building.
Weep first, then laugh, mourn we and dance;
the stones we have scattered we must bring together anew; court we first and then shun the embrace.
To-day’s gain, tomorrow’s loss; what once we treasured, soon thrown away;
the garment rent, the garment mended; silence kept, and silence ended;
love alternating with hatred, war with peace.
For all this toiling of his, how is man the richer?
Pitiable indeed I found it, this task God has given to mankind;
and he, meanwhile, has made the world, in all its seasonable beauty, and given us the contemplation of it, yet of his own dealings with us, first and last, never should man gain comprehension.
To enjoy his life, to make the best of it, beyond doubt this is man’s highest employment;
that gift at least God has granted him, to eat and drink and see his toil rewarded.
But be sure all God has made will remain for ever as he made it; there is no adding to it, no taking away from it; so he will command our reverence.
Nothing that has been, but lasts on still; nothing that will be, but has been already; he is ever repeating the history of the past.

I marked, too, how wrong was done instead of right, injustice instead of justice, there under the sun’s eye;
and I told myself that God would give judgement one day between the just and the sinners, and all things would reach their appointed end then.
I told myself that God’s purpose with the sons of men was to test them …

… And that they might see they were only like the beasts …
After all, man comes to the same ending as the beasts; there is nothing to choose between his lot and theirs; both alike are doomed to die. They have but one principle of life; what has man that the beasts have not? Frustration everywhere;
we are all making for the same goal; of earth we were made, and to earth we must return.
Who has a right to tell us that the spirit of man mounts upwards, and the spirit of a beast sinks down to the depth?
So I became aware that it is best for man to busy himself here to his own content; this and nothing else is his allotted portion; who can show him what the future will bring?