Ecclesiastes 2:21
New International Version
For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune.

New Living Translation
Some people work wisely with knowledge and skill, then must leave the fruit of their efforts to someone who hasn’t worked for it. This, too, is meaningless, a great tragedy.

English Standard Version
because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.

Berean Study Bible
When there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, and he must give his portion to a man who has not worked for it, this too is futile and a great evil.

King James Bible
For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

New King James Version
For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, knowledge, and skill; yet he must leave his heritage to a man who has not labored for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.

New American Standard Bible
When there is a person who has labored with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, and then gives his legacy to one who has not labored for it; this too is futility and a great evil.

NASB 1995
When there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge and skill, then he gives his legacy to one who has not labored with them. This too is vanity and a great evil.

NASB 1977
When there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge and skill, then he gives his legacy to one who has not labored with them. This too is vanity and a great evil.

Amplified Bible
For there is a man who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill, yet gives his legacy to one who has not labored for it. This too is vanity and a great evil.

Christian Standard Bible
When there is a person whose work was done with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, and he must give his portion to a person who has not worked for it, this too is futile and a great wrong.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
When there is a man whose work was done with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, and he must give his portion to a man who has not worked for it, this too is futile and a great wrong.

American Standard Version
For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, and with knowledge, and with skilfulness; yet to a man that hath not labored therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Because there is a man whose labor is in wisdom and in knowledge and in success, and a man who does not labor in it gives him his portion, and this also is futility and great evil!

Brenton Septuagint Translation
For there is such a man that his labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in fortitude; yet this man shall give his portion to one who has not laboured therein. This is also vanity and great evil.

Contemporary English Version
When we use our wisdom, knowledge, and skill to get what we own, why do we have to leave it to someone who didn't work for it? This is senseless and wrong.

Douay-Rheims Bible
For when a man laboureth in wisdom, and knowledge, and carefulness, he leaveth what he hath gotten to an idle man: so this also is vanity, and a great evil.

English Revised Version
For there is a man whose labour is with wisdom, and with knowledge, and with skilfulness; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

Good News Translation
You work for something with all your wisdom, knowledge, and skill, and then you have to leave it all to someone who hasn't had to work for it. It is useless, and it isn't right!

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Here is someone who had worked hard with wisdom, knowledge, and skill. Yet, he must turn over his estate to someone else, who didn't work for it. Even this is pointless and a terrible tragedy.

International Standard Version
For sometimes people who strive to obtain wisdom, knowledge, and equity leave everything as an inheritance to a person who never worked for it. This, too, is pointless and greatly troublesome.

JPS Tanakh 1917
For there is a man whose labour is with wisdom, and with knowledge, and with skill; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

Literal Standard Version
For there is a man whose labor [is] in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity, and to a man who has not labored therein he gives it—his portion! Even this [is] vanity and a great evil.

NET Bible
For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge, and skill; however, he must hand over the fruit of his labor as an inheritance to someone else who did not work for it. This also is futile, and an awful injustice!

New Heart English Bible
For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, with knowledge, and with skillfulness; yet he shall leave it for his portion to a man who has not labored for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.

World English Bible
For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, with knowledge, and with skillfulness; yet he shall leave it for his portion to a man who has not labored for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.

Young's Literal Translation
For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity, and to a man who hath not laboured therein he giveth it -- his portion! Even this is vanity and a great evil.

Additional Translations ...
Context
The Futility of Work
20So my heart began to despair over all the labor that I had done under the sun. 21When there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, and he must give his portion to a man who has not worked for it, this too is futile and a great evil. 22For what does a man get for all the toil and striving with which he labors under the sun?…

Cross References
Psalm 49:10
For it is clear that wise men die, and the foolish and the senseless both perish and leave their wealth to others.

Ecclesiastes 2:18
I hated all for which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who comes after me.

Ecclesiastes 2:20
So my heart began to despair over all the labor that I had done under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 4:4
I saw that all labor and success spring from a man's envy of his neighbor. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.

Ecclesiastes 4:8
There is a man all alone, without even a son or brother. And though there is no end to his labor, his eyes are still not content with his wealth: "For whom do I toil and bereave my soul of enjoyment?" This too is futile--a miserable task.


Treasury of Scripture

For there is a man whose labor is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that has not labored therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

whose

Ecclesiastes 2:17,18
Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit…

Ecclesiastes 9:18
Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good.

2 Chronicles 31:20,21
And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God…

leave









(21) Equity.--Rather, skill, success (Ecclesiastes 4:4; Ecclesiastes 5:7). The noun is peculiar to this book. The corresponding verb occurs in Ecclesiastes 10:10; Ecclesiastes 11:6; Esther 8:5.

Verse 21. - For there is a man whose labor is in wisdom. "In," בְּ, "with," directed and performed with wisdom. The author speaks of himself objectively, as St. Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2) says, "I know a man in Christ," etc. His complaint now is, not that his successor may misuse his inheritance (ver. 19), but that this person shall have that on which he has bestowed no skill or toil, shall enjoy what modern phraseology terms "unearned increment." This, which was set forth as One of the blessings of the promised land (Deuteronomy 6:10, 11), Koheleth cannot bear to contemplate where it touches himself - not from envy or grudging, but from the feeling of dissatisfaction and want of energy which it generates. In (with) knowledge and in (with) equity. Kishron, translated "equity" in the Authorized Version; ἀνδρεία "manliness," in the Septuagint: and sollicitudine in the Vulgate, seems rather here to signify "skill" or "success." It occurs also in Ecclesiastes 4:4 and Ecclesiastes 5:10, and there only in the Old Testament.

Parallel Commentaries ...


Hebrew
When
כִּי־ (kî-)
Conjunction
Strong's 3588: A relative conjunction

there is
יֵ֣שׁ (yêš)
Adverb
Strong's 3426: Being, substance, existence, is

a man
אָדָ֗ם (’ā·ḏām)
Noun - masculine singular
Strong's 120: Ruddy, a human being

who has labored
שֶׁעֲמָל֛וֹ (še·‘ă·mā·lōw)
Pronoun - relative | Verb - Qal - Perfect - third person masculine singular | third person masculine singular
Strong's 5999: Toil, wearing effort, worry, wheth, of body, mind

with wisdom,
בְּחָכְמָ֥ה (bə·ḥā·ḵə·māh)
Preposition-b | Noun - feminine singular
Strong's 2451: Wisdom

knowledge,
וּבְדַ֖עַת (ū·ḇə·ḏa·‘aṯ)
Conjunctive waw, Preposition-b | Noun - feminine singular
Strong's 1847: Knowledge

and skill,
וּבְכִשְׁר֑וֹן (ū·ḇə·ḵiš·rō·wn)
Conjunctive waw, Preposition-b | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's 3788: Success, advantage

and he must give
יִתְּנֶ֣נּוּ (yit·tə·nen·nū)
Verb - Qal - Imperfect - third person masculine singular | third person masculine singular
Strong's 5414: To give, put, set

his portion
חֶלְק֔וֹ (ḥel·qōw)
Noun - masculine singular construct | third person masculine singular
Strong's 2506: Portion, tract, territory

to a man
וּלְאָדָ֞ם (ū·lə·’ā·ḏām)
Conjunctive waw, Preposition-l | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's 120: Ruddy, a human being

who has not
שֶׁלֹּ֤א (šel·lō)
Pronoun - relative | Adverb - Negative particle
Strong's 3808: Not, no

worked for it,
עָֽמַל־ (‘ā·mal-)
Verb - Qal - Perfect - third person masculine singular
Strong's 5998: To toil, work severely and with irksomeness

this
זֶ֥ה (zeh)
Pronoun - masculine singular
Strong's 2088: This, that

too
גַּם־ (gam-)
Conjunction
Strong's 1571: Assemblage, also, even, yea, though, both, and

is futile
הֶ֖בֶל (he·ḇel)
Noun - masculine singular
Strong's 1892: Emptiness, vanity, transitory, unsatisfactory

and a great
רַבָּֽה׃ (rab·bāh)
Adjective - feminine singular
Strong's 7227: Much, many, great

evil.
וְרָעָ֥ה (wə·rā·‘āh)
Conjunctive waw | Adjective - feminine singular
Strong's 7451: Bad, evil


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OT Poetry: Ecclesiastes 2:21 For there is a man whose labor (Ecclesiast. Ec Ecc Eccles.)
Ecclesiastes 2:20
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