Is Death Fair?
9 I ·thought about [L gave my heart to] all this and ·tried to understand it [L examined all this]. ·I saw that God controls good people and wise people and what they do [L The righteous and the wise and their works are all in the hand of God], but no one knows if ·they will experience love or hate [L love or hate awaits them].
2 ·Good [Righteous] and ·bad [wicked] people ·end up the same [have the same fate]—
those who are good and those who are evil,
those who are clean [C in a ritual sense] and those who are unclean,
those who sacrifice and those who do not.
The same things happen to a good person
as happen to a sinner,
to a person who ·makes promises to God [swears; makes an oath]
and to one who ·does not [L is afraid to swear/make an oath].
3 This is ·something wrong [the evil] that happens ·here on earth [L under the sun; 1:3]: ·What happens to one happens to [L There is one fate for] all. So people’s ·minds [L hearts] are full of ·evil and foolish thoughts [madness] while they live. After that, they join the dead. 4 But anyone ·still alive [joined to the living] has hope; even a live dog [C considered contemptible] is better off than a dead lion [C a noble animal]!
5 The living know they will die,
but the dead know nothing.
Dead people have no more reward,
and ·people forget them [L the memory of them is forgotten].
6 ·After people are dead,
they can no longer love or hate or envy [L Their love, their hate, and their jealousy have already perished].
They will ·never again share [L have no portion]
in what happens ·here on earth [L under the sun; 1:3].
Enjoy Life While You Can
7 So go eat your food ·and enjoy it [L with gladness];
drink your wine ·and be happy [L with a glad heart],
because ·that is what God wants you to do [L God has already approved your deeds].
8 Put on ·nice [L white; C festive] clothes
and ·make yourself look good [L do not spare oil on your head; Ps. 23:5; 45:7; Prov. 27:9; Is. 61:3].
9 Enjoy life with the wife you love. Enjoy all the useless [1:2] days of this useless [1:2] life God has given you ·here on earth [L under the sun; 1:3], because it is ·all you have [L your lot/reward/portion in life]. So enjoy the ·work [toil] you do ·here on earth [L under the sun; 1:3]. 10 Whatever ·work you [L your hand finds to] do, do ·your best [L with all your strength], because you are going to ·the grave [L Sheol], where there is no ·working [or action], no ·planning [or thought], no knowledge, and no wisdom [2:24–26; 3:12–14, 22; 5:18–20; 8:15; C such activities and pleasures are distractions from the meaninglessness of life].
Time and Chance
11 I also ·saw [L turned and observed] something else ·here on earth [L under the sun; 1:3]:
The fastest runner does not always win the race,
the strongest soldier does not always win the battle,
the wisest does not always have food,
the smartest does not always become wealthy,
and the ·talented [intelligent] one does not always receive ·praise [favor].
Time and chance happen to everyone.
12 No one knows ·what will happen next [L his time].
Like a fish caught in a cruel net,
or a bird caught in a trap,
people are trapped ·by evil [or in an evil time]
when it suddenly falls on them.
Wisdom Does Not Always Win
13 I also saw something wise ·here on earth [L under the sun; 1:3] that impressed me. 14 There was a small town with only a few people in it. A great king ·fought against [invaded] it and ·put his armies all around it [L built great siegeworks against it]. 15 Now there was a poor but wise man in the town who used his wisdom to ·save [rescue] his town. But later on, ·everyone forgot about him [L no one remembered that poor wise man]. 16 I ·still think [L said that] wisdom is better than strength. But ·those people forgot about the poor man’s wisdom [L the wisdom of the poor wise man was despised], and they stopped listening to what he said.
17 The quiet words of a wise person are better
than the shouts of a foolish ruler.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
but one sinner can destroy much good.