Fear God Now Because Old Age and Death Come Quickly
12:1 So remember1 your Creator in the days of your youth –
before2 the difficult3 days come,
and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”;
12:2 before the sun and the light4 of the moon and the stars grow dark,
and the clouds disappear5 after the rain;
12:3 when those who keep watch over the house6 begin to tremble,7
and the virile men begin to stoop over,8
and the grinders9 begin to cease because they grow few,
and those who look through the windows grow dim,10
12:4 and the doors along the street are shut;
when the sound of the grinding mill11 grows low,
and one is awakened12 by the sound of a bird,
and all their13 songs14 grow faint,15
12:5 and they are afraid of heights and the dangers16 in the street;
the almond blossoms17 grow white,18
and the grasshopper19 drags itself along,20
and the caper berry21 shrivels up22 –
because man goes to his eternal home,23
and the mourners go about in the streets –
12:6 before the silver cord is removed,
or the golden bowl is broken,
or the pitcher is shattered at the well,24
or the water wheel25 is broken at the cistern –
12:7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was,
and the life’s breath26 returns to God who gave it.
Concluding Refrain: Qoheleth Restates His Thesis
12:8 “Absolutely futile!”27 laments the Teacher,28
“All of these things29 are futile!”30
Concluding Epilogue: Qoheleth’s Advice is Wise
12:9 Not only was the Teacher wise,31
but he also taught knowledge to the people;
he carefully evaluated32 and arranged33 many proverbs.
12:10 The Teacher sought to find delightful34 words,
and to write35 accurately truthful sayings.36
12:11 The words of the sages are like prods,37
and the collected sayings are like firmly fixed nails;
they are given by one shepherd.
Concluding Exhortation: Fear God and Obey His Commands!
12:12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.38
There is no end to the making39 of many books,
and much study is exhausting to the body.40
12:13 Having heard everything, I have reached this conclusion:41
Fear God and keep his commandments,
because this is the whole duty42 of man.
12:14 For God will evaluate every deed,43
including every secret thing, whether good or evil.