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The Uselessness of Selfish Toil

Then I returned and considered all the (A)oppression that is done under the sun:

And look! The tears of the oppressed,
But they have no comforter—
[a]On the side of their oppressors there is power,
But they have no comforter.
(B)Therefore I praised the dead who were already dead,
More than the living who are still alive.
(C)Yet, better than both is he who has never existed,
Who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

The Vanity of Selfish Toil

Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbor. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.

(D)The fool folds his hands
And consumes his own flesh.
(E)Better a handful with quietness
Than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind.

Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun:

There is one alone, without [b]companion:
He has neither son nor brother.
Yet there is no end to all his labors,
Nor is his (F)eye satisfied with riches.
But (G)he never asks,
“For whom do I toil and deprive myself of (H)good?”
This also is vanity and a [c]grave misfortune.

The Value of a Friend

Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Popularity Passes Away

13 Better a poor and wise youth
Than an old and foolish king who will be admonished no more.
14 For he comes out of prison to be king,
Although [d]he was born poor in his kingdom.
15 I saw all the living who walk under the sun;
They were with the second youth who stands in his place.
16 There was no end of all the people [e]over whom he was made king;
Yet those who come afterward will not rejoice in him.
Surely this also is vanity and grasping for the wind.

Footnotes

  1. Ecclesiastes 4:1 Lit. At the hand
  2. Ecclesiastes 4:8 Lit. a second
  3. Ecclesiastes 4:8 Lit. evil task
  4. Ecclesiastes 4:14 The youth
  5. Ecclesiastes 4:16 Lit. to all before whom he was to be

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