The Book of Ecclesiastes  PDF  MSWord
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Ecclesiastes Chapter 1  top  PDF  MSWord

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1The words of the Sage, the son of David, king in Jerusalem:
  2“Utterly pointless!” says the Sage; “Utterly pointless! Everything is pointless.”a
  3What does a man gain from all his toil at which he toils under the sun?
  4A generation goes, and another generation comes, but the earth remains forever.
  5The sun also rises and the sun sets, and panting, returns to its place where it rises.
  6Going toward the south, and circling to the north— circling, circling is the wind, and on its own circuits the wind returns.
  7All the streams go into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place from which the streams flow, they return to flow again.
  8All things are full of weariness; a person cannot express it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing.
  9What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
  10There is a thing about which one might say, “Look, this is new!” But it already was in ages ago that came before us.
  11There is no recollection of the former things,b and also there will be no recollection of those things that are still to come by those who will come after them.

12I, the Sage, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
  13And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens. It is a burdensome business that God has given to the sons of men to be busied with.
  14I have seen all the works that are done under the sun, and behold, everything is pointless and herding the wind.
  15What is bent cannot be straightened, and what is lacking cannot be counted.

16I said to myself, “Behold, I have magnified and increased in wisdom above all who were over Jerusalem before me. Yes, my heart has seen much wisdom and knowledge.”
  17I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and foolishness. I perceived that this also was herding the wind.
  18For in much wisdom is much frustration, and he who increases knowledge increases pain.

The Hebrew includes the meanings of “pointless” and “temporary”
Or, former people...those people

Ecclesiastes Chapter 2  top  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Commentary on Eccl 2

1I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; and to see what is good.” But behold, that also was pointless.
  2I said of laughter, “How stupid!” And of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?”
  3I searched with my heart how to entice my flesh with wine (my heart still guiding me with wisdom), and how to embrace folly until I could see what is good for the sons of men that they should do under heaven in the number of the days of their lives.

4I made great works for myself: I built myself houses. I planted vineyards for myself.
  5I made gardens and private gardensa for myself and I planted in them trees of all kinds of fruit.
  6I made pools of water for myself, from which to water groves of growing trees.
  7I bought male slaves and female slaves and had slaves who were born in my house. I also had great possessions of herds and flocks, more than all who had been before me in Jerusalem;
  8I also gathered silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers for myself, and the delights of the sons of men—many beautiful concubines.
  9So I became great and surpassed all those who had been before me in Jerusalem. Still, my wisdom also remained with me.
  10And whatever my eyes desired, I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor, and this was my portion for all my labor.
  11But when I turned to consider all the works that my hands had worked, and the labor that I had labored to do, behold, all was pointless and herding the wind, and there was no profit under the sun.

12I turned myself to consider wisdom, madness, and foolishness; for what can the man do who will come after the king? Only that which has already been done.
  13And I saw that wisdom is superior to folly as light is superior to darkness.
  14The wise person has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness—and yet I perceived that one event happens to them all.
  15Then I said to myself, “As it happens to the fool, so it will happen even to me; so why then was I more wise?” Then I said in my heart that this also is pointless.
  16For of the wise man, even as of the fool, there is no lasting memory, seeing that in the days to come all will have been forgotten. And how will the wise man die? Just like the fool!
  17So I hated life, because the work that is worked under the sun was distressing to me; for all is pointless and herding the wind.

18And I hated all my labor that I labored at under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me.
  19And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will rule over all of my labor that I have labored at and in which I have been wise under the sun. This also is pointless.
  20So I turned about, and gave my heart over to despair concerning all the labor that I had labored at under the sun.
  21For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, with knowledge, and with skill, yet he must leave his portion to a man who has not labored for it. This also is pointless and a great evil.
  22For what does a person get from all his labor—and from the stress of his heart—that he labors at under the sun?
  23For all his days are pain and his business is frustrating; yes, even at night his heart does not rest. This also is pointless.

24There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it is from the hand of God,
  25for who can eat or who can have enjoyment apart from him?
  26For to the one who pleases him, God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy; but to the sinner he gives the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to the one who pleases God. This also is pointless and herding the wind.

Lit. paradises.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3  top  PDF  MSWord

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1For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
  2a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted;
  3a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build up;
  4a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
  5a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
  6a time to search, and a time to count it as lost; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
  7a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak;
  8a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

9What profit is there to the worker from his labor?
  10I have seen the business that God has given to the children of men to be busy with.
  11He has made everything appropriate in its time. Also, he has set eternity in their hearts, yet not in such a way that man can find out the work that God has done from the beginning even to the end.
  12I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good as long as they live.
  13And also that each one should eat and drink and enjoy the good resulting from all his labor—this is the gift of God.
  14I know that whatever God does will be forever. Nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; and God has done it so that people should fear before him.
  15That which is, has already been; and that which is to be, has already been; and God seeks that which is pursued.

16And moreover I saw this under the sun: in the place of justice, that wickedness was there, and in the place of righteousness, that wickedness was there.
  17I said in my heart, “God will judge the righteous person and the wicked person, for there is a time of judgment for every purpose and for every deed.”
  18I said in my heart, “As for the children of men, God tests them so that they may see that they themselves are but animals.
  19For the fate of the children of men and the fate of animals is one: as the one dies, so the other dies. They all have one spirit,a and man has no advantage over the animals, for all is pointless.
  20All go to one place. All are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.
  21Who knows the spirit of man, whether it goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, whether it goes downward into the earth?”
  22So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his works, for that is his portion; for who can bring him to see what will be after him?

Lit. ruach, traditionally “spirit,” here referring to the life force in the person or animal usually called “soul.”

Ecclesiastes Chapter 4  top  PDF  MSWord

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1Then I turned and saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun, and behold, the tears of those who were oppressed, and they had no comforter. On the side of their oppressors there was power. And they had no comforter!
  2Therefore I praised the dead who had already died more than the living who are still alive.
  3And better off than them both is the one who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil things that are done under the sun.

4Then I saw that all labor and skillful work is the rivalry of one person with another. This also is pointless and herding the wind.
  5The fool folds his hands together and eats his own flesh.
  6Better is a handful of rest, than two fists full of labor and herding the wind.

7Then I turned and saw another pointless thing under the sun.
  8There is one person who has no other, either son or brother. Yet there is no end to all of his labor, nor are his eyes satisfied with wealth. “For whom then, do I labor, and deprive my soul of pleasure?” This also is pointless and a miserable business.

9Two are better than one, because they have a good wage for their labor.
  10For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls and does not have another to lift him up!
  11Also, if two lie together, then they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone?
  12And if a man can overpower the one, two can withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

13Better is a poor but wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knows to regard advice.
  14For out of prison he came to be king even though he was born poor in his kingdom.
  15I saw all the living who are walking about under the sun, that they were with the next youth, who replaced him.
  16There was no end to all the people, even to all those whom he was over, yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is pointless and herding the wind.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 5  top  PDF  MSWord

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1Guard your step when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not recognize that they are doing evil.
  2Do not be rash with your mouth, and do not let your heart be hasty to utter a word in God’s presence. For God is in heaven and you are on earth, therefore let your words be few.
  3For as a dream comes when there are a multitude of cares, so the voice of a fool comes with a multitude of words.
  4When you vow a vow to God, do not delay in paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools; what you vow, pay!
  5It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.
  6Do not let your mouth cause your whole body to sin. Do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands?
  7For in many dreams and in many words there is much that is pointless. Rather, fear God!

8If you see the oppression of the poor and the denial of justice and righteousness in the land, do not be amazed at the situation; for one authority watches over another authority, and there are higher authorities over them.
  9But in all, an advantage for a land is this: a king, for the sake of agriculture.

10The one who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor will the one who loves abundance be satisfied with his income. This too is pointless.
  11When goods increase, those who consume them increase, and what advantage is there to the owner, except to look at them with his eyes?
  12The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of the wealthy person will not allow him to sleep.

13There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: wealth kept by its owner to his harm.
  14Then that wealth is lost through bad business dealings, and if he has fathered a son, there is nothing to pass on.a
  15As he came out from his mother’s womb, naked will he go again as he came, and he will take nothing for his labor that he can carry away in his hand.
  16This also is a grievous evil, that in the same way that he came, so will he go. And what profit does he have who labors for the wind?
  17Also, all his days he eats in darkness, with much frustration and sickness and anger.

18Here is what I have seen to be good: it is appropriate for one to eat and to drink and to see good in all his labor in which he labors under the sun, all the days of his life that God has given him for this is his portion.
  19Every man also to whom God has given wealth and riches, and has given him power to enjoy them and to accept his portion and to take pleasure in his labor—this is the gift of God.
  20For he does not brood much over the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the joy of his heart.

Lit. “in his hand”

Ecclesiastes Chapter 6  top  PDF  MSWord

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1There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it weighs heavily upon humanity:
  2a man to whom God gives wealth, riches, and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all that he desires, yet God does not give him the ability to eat of it,a but a stranger eats it. This is pointless, and it is a severe affliction.
  3Or, if a man fathers 100 children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with good things, and moreover he has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better than he;
  4for the stillborn comes pointlessly and goes in darkness, and its name is covered with darkness.
  5It has not seen the sun nor known anything. Yet it has more rest than the other man
  6even if he lives 1,000 years twice over, and yet fails to enjoy good things. Do not all go to one place?
  7All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.

8For what advantage has the wise more than the fool? What advantage does the poor man have who knows how to walk before the living?
  9Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire. This also is pointless and herding the wind.

10That which is, already his name was called, and it was known that he is man,b and he cannot contend with one who is mightier than he.
  11For there are many things that increase pointlessness. How does that profit a man?
  12For who knows what is good for a man in life, all the days of his pointless life that he makes like a shadow? For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?

“Eat” was idiomatic for “enjoy”
Lit. “Adam”

Ecclesiastes Chapter 7  top  PDF  MSWord

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1A good name is better than good perfume, and the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.
  2It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting; for that is the end of all humankind, and the living should take this to heart.
  3Sorrow is better than laughter, for by the sadness of the face the heart is made good.
  4The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of merrymaking.
  5It is better to listen to the rebuke of the wise than for a man to listen to the song of fools.
  6For as the crackling of burning thorns underneath a pot, so is the laughter of the fool. This also is pointless.
  7For extortion makes the wise man foolish, and a bribe destroys the heart.
  8Better is the end of a matter than its beginning. A patient spirit is better than a proud spirit.
  9Do not be hasty in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.
  10Do not say, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
  11Wisdom with an inheritance is a good thing, and an advantage for those who see the sun.
  12For wisdom is a defense, even as money is a defense,a but the advantage of the knowledge of wisdom is that it preserves the life of him who has it.
  13Consider the work of God, for who can make straight what he has made crooked?

14In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, in order that man cannot find out anything about his future.

15I have seen everything in my days of pointlessness: a righteous man perishes in his righteousness, and a wicked man lives long in his evildoing.
  16Do not be excessively righteous, and do not be overly wise. Why should you destroy yourself?
  17Do not be excessively wicked, nor be a fool. Why should you die before your time?
  18It is good that you grasp the one thing, but do not withdraw your hand from the other. For the one who fears God will come out from both of them.
  19Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.
  20Surely there is not a righteous person on earth who does good and does not sin.

21Also, do not take to heart every word that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you,
  22for your own heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.

23I have tested all this with wisdom; I said, “I will be wise!” But it was beyond my reach.
  24That which is, is beyond reach and deep, deep. Who can find it out?
  25I turned my heart to know, and to search out, and to seek wisdom and the reason for things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness of madness.
  26I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are chains. Whoever pleases God will escape from her, but the sinner will be captured by her.
  27“Behold, I have found this,” says the Sage, “adding one thing to another to find out the reason for things
  28that my soul is still searching for but I have not found: one man among 1,000 I have found, but I have not found a woman among all those.
  29Behold, I have found only this: God made humankind upright, but they search for many schemes.”

Lit. “shadow” or “shade,” a defense from the heat of the sun

Ecclesiastes Chapter 8  top  PDF  MSWord

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1Who is like the wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man’s wisdom makes his face shine, and the hardness of his face is changed.

2I say, “Keep the king’s command!” because of the oath of God.
  3Do not be hasty to go out of his presence. Do not persist in an evil thing, for he does whatever pleases him,
  4for the king’s word is authoritative. Who can say to him, “What are you doing?”
  5Whoever keeps the commandment will not come to harm, and his wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.
  6For there is a proper time and procedure for every purpose, even though the misery of man is heavy on him.
  7For no one knows what will happen, because who can tell him when it will happen?
  8There is no man who has power over the spirita to retain the spirit, and no one has power over the day of his death. No one is discharged in that war, and wickedness will not rescue its owners.
  9All this have I seen, and applied my heart to every work that is done under the sun. There is a time when one man has power over another to his hurt.

10Indeed, I saw the wicked buried and departed. They used to go from the holy place and were praised in the city where they did such things. This also is pointless.
  11Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
  12Though a sinner does evil 100 times and lives long, yet surely I know that it will be better for those who fear God, who are reverent before him.
  13But it will not be well with the wicked person, nor will he lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God.

14There is a pointless thing that is done on the earth, that there are righteous people to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked. Again, there are wicked people to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous. I said that this also is pointless.
  15So I recommend the enjoyment of life, because a man has no better thing under the sun than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry, and that will accompany him in his labor all the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.
  16When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to see the activity that is done on the earth (indeed, there is one that neither day nor night sees sleep with his eyes),
  17then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun because however much man labors to seek it out, yet he will not find it. Even if a wise man thinks he can comprehend it, he will not be able to find it.

Or, “wind”

Ecclesiastes Chapter 9  top  PDF  MSWord

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1For all this I laid to my heart, even to explore all this: that the righteous and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God, people do not know whether it is love or hatred; everything is ahead of them.
  2It is the same for all. There is one event to the righteous and to the wicked, to the good, to the clean, to the unclean, to him who sacrifices and to him who does not sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner; he who takes an oath as he who is afraid to take an oath.
  3This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one event to all: and also, the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that—to the dead!
  4For whoever is united with all the living there is hope; for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
  5For the living know that they will die, but the dead do not know anything, nor do they have any more a wage, for even the memory of them is forgotten.
  6Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, have already perished, and they do not have any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun.

7Go and eat your bread with pleasure and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already accepted your works!
  8Let your garments be always white, and do not let oil be lacking from your head.
  9Enjoy life with the wife whom you have loved all the days of your pointless life that he has given you under the sun, all your days of pointlessness, for that is your portion in life and in your labor in which you labor under the sun.
  10Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, or planning, or knowledge, or wisdom, in Sheol, where you are going.

11Then I turned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor is the battle to the strong, and also, the wise do not have bread, nor do people of understanding have riches, nor does favor come to people of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.
  12Indeed, man does not know his time. Like the fish that are taken in an evil net and like the birds that are caught in the snare, even so are the sons of men ensnared in an evil time when it suddenly falls on them.

13Also in this I have seen wisdom under the sun, and it made a great impression on me:
  14There was a little city and few people in it, and a great king surrounded it and built great siegeworks against it.
  15But there was found in it a poor wise man, and by his wisdom he delivered the city; yet no one remembered that poor man.
  16Then I said, “Wisdom is better than strength, but the poor man’s wisdom is treated with contempt and his words are not heeded.
  17The quiet words of the wise should be heeded rather than the shouting of a ruler among fools.
  18Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroys much good.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 10  top  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Commentary on Eccl 10

1Dead flies cause the oil of the perfumer to give off a bad odor; so does a little folly outweigh wisdom and honor.
  2A wise person’s heart inclines him toward his right hand, but a fool’s heart inclines towards his left.
  3And also, when the fool walks along the road, his understanding fails him and he says to everyone that he is a fool.
  4If the spirit of the ruler rises up against you, do not leave your place, for calmness lays great offenses to rest.

5There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, the sort of error that proceeds from the one who has power.
  6Folly is set in many high positions, while the rich sit in a low place.
  7I have seen servants on horses while officials walk on the ground like servants.
  8The one who digs a pit may fall into it, and a snake may bite the one who breaks through a wall.
  9Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them. Whoever splits wood may be endangered by it.
  10If the iron is dull and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but wisdom brings success.
  11If the snake bites before it is charmed, then is there no advantage to having a charmer.
  12The words of a wise person’s mouth are gracious, but the lips of a fool swallow him up.
  13The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness and the end of his mouth is hurtful madness,
  14yet the fool also multiplies words. A person does not know what will be; and what will be after him, who can tell him?
  15The labor of fools wearies them, for he does not know how to go to a city.
  16Woe to you, O land, when your king is a youth and your officials feast in the morning!
  17Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of noblesa and your officials feast in due season, for strength and not for drunkenness!
  18By laziness the rafters sag, and through idleness of the hands the house leaks.
  19People make food for laughter, and wine gladdens one’s life, and money answers everything.
  20Do not curse the king, no, not in your thoughts, and do not curse the rich in your bedroom: for a bird of the air may carry your voice, and that which has wings may tell the matter.

Idiom: of noble character

Ecclesiastes Chapter 11  top  PDF  MSWord

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1Cast your bread on the waters; for you may find it after many days.
  2Give a portion to seven, or even to eight; for you do not know what evil may happen on the earth.
  3If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth, and if a tree falls toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will be.
  4He who watches the wind will not sow; and he who looks at the clouds will not reap.
  5Just as you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in a womb with child, even so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.
  6In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether they both alike will be good.
  7Truly the light is sweet, and it is good for the eyes to see the sun.
  8Indeed, if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. All that comes is pointless.
  9Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of your heart and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.
  10Therefore remove frustration from your heart and put away evil from your flesh, for youth and the dawn of life are pointless.

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1Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth before the evil days come, and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them,”
  2Before the sun, and the light, and the moon and the stars are darkened, and the clouds return after the rain;
  3in the day when the keepers of the house tremble and the strong men bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look out of the windows are darkened,
  4and the doors will be shut in the street; when the sound of the grinding is low, and one will rise up at the voice of a bird, and all the daughters of music will be brought low;
  5also, they will be afraid of heights, and terrors will be in the road; and the almond tree will blossom, and the grasshopper will be a burden, and desire will fail because man goes to his age-long home, and the mourners go about the streets:
  6before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is broken at the spring, or the wheel broken at the cistern,
  7and the dust returns to the earth as it was and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

8“Utterly pointless,” says the Sage. “Everything is pointless!”

9And furthermore, because the Sage was wise, he also taught the people knowledge. He pondered, evaluated, and arranged many proverbs.
  10The Sage sought to find delightful words and what was written uprightly, words of truth.
  11The words of the wise are like goads and like nails well-fastened, words of masters of collections, given by one shepherd.

12My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
  13This is the end of the matter. All has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole purpose of humankind.
  14For God will bring everything we do into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil.

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