9 A lover of money never has his fill of money, nor a lover of wealth his fill of income. That too is futile.
o-HAYV KE-sef lo yis-BA KE-sef u-MEE o-HAYV be-ha-MON LO t’-vu-AH gam ZEH HA-vel
ט אֹהֵב כֶּסֶף לֹא־יִשְׂבַּע כֶּסֶף וּמִי־אֹהֵב בֶּהָמוֹן לֹא תְבוּאָה גַּם־זֶה הָבֶל׃
5:9 That too is futile
The word hevel (הבל), ‘futile,’ appears many times throughout Megillat Kohelet as a description of the pursuit of various physical pleasures. Although the word is translated as ‘futile,’ it literally means ‘vapor’. Vapor has the power to distort what a person sees. For example, the hot air rising from desert sands creates the mirage of an oasis. In this verse, Kohelet observes that amassing wealth is “hevel.” More than just futile, the pursuit of wealth is similar to vapor, since it has the power to distort a person’s reality and values. Kohelet warns not to pursue wealth, because one who does so will never be satisfied.