Ecclesiastes 8:16
New International Version
When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the labor that is done on earth—people getting no sleep day or night—

New Living Translation
In my search for wisdom and in my observation of people’s burdens here on earth, I discovered that there is ceaseless activity, day and night.

English Standard Version
When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how neither day nor night do one’s eyes see sleep,

Berean Study Bible
When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the task that one performs on the earth—though his eyes do not see sleep in the day or even in the night—

King James Bible
When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:)

New King James Version
When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to see the business that is done on earth, even though one sees no sleep day or night,

New American Standard Bible
When I devoted my mind to know wisdom and to see the business which has been done on the earth (even though one should never sleep day or night),

NASB 1995
When I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the task which has been done on the earth (even though one should never sleep day or night),

NASB 1977
When I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the task which has been done on the earth (even though one should never sleep day or night),

Amplified Bible
When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to see the activities [of mankind] that take place upon the earth—how some men seem to sleep neither day nor night—

Christian Standard Bible
When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the activity that is done on the earth (even though one’s eyes do not close in sleep day or night),

Holman Christian Standard Bible
When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the activity that is done on the earth (even though one’s eyes do not close in sleep day or night),

American Standard Version
When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes),

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Because of this, I have given my heart to know Wisdom and to see the business that is done upon Earth, because by day and by night with his eyes he sees no sleep

Brenton Septuagint Translation
Whereupon I set my heart to know wisdom, and to perceive the trouble that was wrought upon the earth: for there is that neither by day nor night sees sleep with his eyes.

Contemporary English Version
Day and night I went without sleep, trying to understand what goes on in this world.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to understand the distraction that is upon earth: for there are some that day and night take no sleep with their eyes.

English Revised Version
When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:)

Good News Translation
Whenever I tried to become wise and learn what goes on in the world, I realized that you could stay awake night and day

GOD'S WORD® Translation
When I carefully considered how to study wisdom and how to look at the work that is done on earth (even going without sleep day and night),

International Standard Version
When I dedicated myself to experience wisdom and to observe what is undertaken on earth—even going without sleep day and night—

JPS Tanakh 1917
When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth--for neither day nor night do men see sleep with their eyes--

Literal Standard Version
When I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the business that has been done on the earth (for there is also a spectator in whose eyes sleep is not by day and by night),

NET Bible
When I tried to gain wisdom and to observe the activity on earth--even though it prevents anyone from sleeping day or night--

New Heart English Bible
When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on the earth (for also there is that neither day nor night sees sleep with his eyes),

World English Bible
When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on the earth (for also there is that neither day nor night sees sleep with his eyes),

Young's Literal Translation
When I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the business that hath been done on the earth, (for there is also a spectator in whose eyes sleep is not by day and by night),

Additional Translations ...
Context
God's Ways are Mysterious
15So I commended the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be merry. For this joy will accompany him in his labor during the days of his life that God gives him under the sun. 16When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the task that one performs on the earth— though his eyes do not see sleep in the day or even in the night— 17I saw every work of God, and that a man is unable to comprehend the work that is done under the sun. Despite his efforts to search it out, he cannot find its meaning; even if the wise man claims to know, he is unable to comprehend.…

Cross References
Ecclesiastes 1:13
And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid upon the sons of men to occupy them!

Ecclesiastes 1:14
I have seen all the things that are done under the sun, and have found them all to be futile, a pursuit of the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:23
Indeed, all his days are filled with grief, and his task is sorrowful; even at night, his mind does not rest. This too is futile.


Treasury of Scripture

When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night sees sleep with his eyes:)

when I

Ecclesiastes 8:7
For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?

Ecclesiastes 7:25
I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness:

there is that

Ecclesiastes 2:23
For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.

Ecclesiastes 4:8
There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.

Ecclesiastes 5:12
The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.









(16) It would have been better if the new chapter had been made to begin here. The sentiment is that already expressed in Ecclesiastes 3:11.

Seeth sleep with his eyes.--Psalm 132:4; Proverbs 6:4; Genesis 31:40. The identical expression occurs in Terence, Heaut III. 1:82, "Somnum hercle ego hae nocte oculis non vidi meis."

Verse 16 - Ecclesiastes 9:10. - Section 7 (the division in the theme caused by the introduction of a new chapter is misleading). Man's wisdom is incapable of explaining the course of God's providential government; death awaits all without any exception, whatever be their condition or actions. These two considerations conduce to the old conclusion, that man had best enjoy life, only being careful to use it energetically and well. Verses 16, 17. - No mortal wisdom, combined with the closest observation and thought, can fathom the mysteries of God's moral government. Verse 16. - When I applied mine heart (Ecclesiastes 1:13). The answering member of the sentence is in ver. 17, the last clause of the present verse being parenthetical. To know wisdom. This was his first study (see on Ecclesiastes 1:16). He endeavored to acquire wisdom which might enable him to investigate God's doings. His second study was to see the business that is done upon the earth; i.e. not only to learn what men do in their several stations and callings, but likewise to understand what all this means, what it tends to, its object and result. (For "business," inyan, see on Ecclesiastes 1:13.) The Vulgate here renders it distentionem, "distraction," which is like the Septuagint περισπασμόν. For also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes. This is a parenthetical clause expressing either the restless, unrelieved labor that goes on in the world, or the sleepless meditation of one who tries to solve the problem of the order and disorder in men's lives. In the latter case, Koheleth may be giving his own experience. To "see sleep" is to enjoy sleep. The phrase is not found elsewhere in the Old Testament, but commentators quote parallels from classical sources. Thus Terence, 'Heautontim.,' 3:1.82 -

"Somnum hercle ego hac nocte cculis non vidi reels."

"No sleep mine eyes have seen this livelong night." Cicero, 'Ad Famil.,' 8:30, "Fuit mittflea vigilantia, qui tote sue consulatuson, hum non vidit." Of course, the expression is hyperbolical. The same idea is found without metaphor in such passages as Psalm 132:4; Proverbs 6:4.

Parallel Commentaries ...


Hebrew
When
כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר (ka·’ă·šer)
Preposition-k | Pronoun - relative
Strong's 834: Who, which, what, that, when, where, how, because, in order that

I applied
נָתַ֤תִּי (nā·ṯat·tî)
Verb - Qal - Perfect - first person common singular
Strong's 5414: To give, put, set

my mind
לִבִּי֙ (lib·bî)
Noun - masculine singular construct | first person common singular
Strong's 3820: The heart, the feelings, the will, the intellect, centre

to know
לָדַ֣עַת (lā·ḏa·‘aṯ)
Preposition-l | Verb - Qal - Infinitive construct
Strong's 3045: To know

wisdom
חָכְמָ֔ה (ḥāḵ·māh)
Noun - feminine singular
Strong's 2451: Wisdom

and to observe
וְלִרְאוֹת֙ (wə·lir·’ō·wṯ)
Conjunctive waw, Preposition-l | Verb - Qal - Infinitive construct
Strong's 7200: To see

the activity
הָ֣עִנְיָ֔ן (hā·‘in·yān)
Article | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's 6045: Ado, employment, an affair

that
אֲשֶׁ֥ר (’ă·šer)
Pronoun - relative
Strong's 834: Who, which, what, that, when, where, how, because, in order that

one does
נַעֲשָׂ֖ה (na·‘ă·śāh)
Verb - Nifal - Perfect - third person masculine singular
Strong's 6213: To do, make

on
עַל־ (‘al-)
Preposition
Strong's 5921: Above, over, upon, against

the earth—
הָאָ֑רֶץ (hā·’ā·reṣ)
Article | Noun - feminine singular
Strong's 776: Earth, land

though
כִּ֣י (kî)
Conjunction
Strong's 3588: A relative conjunction

his eyes
בְּעֵינָ֖יו (bə·‘ê·nāw)
Preposition-b | Noun - cdc | third person masculine singular
Strong's 5869: An eye, a fountain

do not
אֵינֶ֥נּוּ (’ê·nen·nū)
Adverb | third person masculine singular
Strong's 369: A non-entity, a negative particle

see
רֹאֶֽה׃ (rō·’eh)
Verb - Qal - Participle - masculine singular
Strong's 7200: To see

sleep
שֵׁנָ֕ה (šê·nāh)
Noun - feminine singular
Strong's 8142: Sleep

day
בַּיּוֹם֙ (bay·yō·wm)
Preposition-b, Article | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's 3117: A day

or night—
וּבַלַּ֔יְלָה (ū·ḇal·lay·lāh)
Conjunctive waw, Preposition-b, Article | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's 3915: A twist, night, adversity


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OT Poetry: Ecclesiastes 8:16 When I applied my heart to know (Ecclesiast. Ec Ecc Eccles.)
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