Ecclesiastes 3

A Time for Everything

1For everything there is a season, and a  a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to b  die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4a time to c  weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to d  dance;
5a time to e  cast away stones, and a time to f  gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to g  refrain from embracing;
6a time to seek, and a time to h  lose;
a time to keep, and a time to i  cast away;
7a time to j  tear, and a time to sew;
a time to k  keep silence, and a time to speak;
8a time to love, and a time to l  hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

The God-Given Task

9What m  gain has the worker from his toil? 10I have seen n  the business that o  God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11He has p  made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot q  find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12I perceived that there is r  nothing better for them than to be joyful and to s  do good as long as they live; 13also t  that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is u  God’s gift to man.

14I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; v  nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15That which is, w  already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God x  seeks what has been driven away.
Hebrew  what has been pursued

From Dust to Dust

16Moreover z  I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even aa  there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. 17I said in my heart ab  God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is ac  a time for every matter and for every work. 18I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but ad  beasts. 19 ae  For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity.
The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath” (see note on 1:2)
20All go to one place. All are from ag  the dust, and to dust all return. 21Who knows whether ah  the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? 22So I saw that there is ai  nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for aj  that is his lot. Who can bring him to see ak  what will be after him?

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