English Standard Version
one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.
King James Bible
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.
American Standard Version
There is one that is alone, and he hath not a second; yea, he hath neither son nor brother; yet is there no end of all his labor, neither are his eyes satisfied with riches. For whom then,'saith he , do I labor, and deprive my soul of good? This also is vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.
There is but one, and he hath not a second, no child, no brother, and yet he ceaseth not to labour, neither are his eyes satisfied with riches, neither doth he reflect, saying: For whom do I labour, and defraud my soul of good things? in this also is vanity, and a grievous vexation.
English Revised Version
There is one that is alone, and he hath not a second; yea, he hath neither son nor brother; yet is there no end of all his labour, neither are his eyes satisfied with riches. For whom then, saith he, do I labour, and deprive my soul of good? This also is vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.
Webster's Bible Translation
There is one alone, and there is not a second; yes, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labor; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labor, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yes, it is a grievous labor.
Ecclesiastes 4:8 Parallel
CommentaryKeil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
"And I praised the dead who were long ago dead, more than the living who are yet in life; and as happier than both, him who has not yet come into existence, who hath not seen the evil work which is done under the sun." ושׁבּח is hardly thought of as part., like יוּקשׁים equals מיקּשׁים, Ecclesiastes 9:12; the m of the part. Pih. is not usually thrown away, only מהר, Zephaniah 1:14, is perhaps equals ממהר, but for the same reason as בּית־אל, 2 Kings 2:3, is equals בּבית - אל. Thus ושׁבּח, like ונתון, Ecclesiastes 8:9, is inf. absol., which is used to continue, in an adverbially subord. manner, the preceding finite with the same subject,
(Note: Also 1 Chronicles 5:20, the subject remains virtually the same: et ita quidem ut exaudirentur.)
Genesis 41:43; Leviticus 25:14; Judges 7:19, etc.; cf. especially Exodus 8:11 : "Pharaoh saw ... and hardened (והכבּד) his heart;" just in the same manner as ושׁבּח here connects itself with ושׁ אני וא. Only the annexed designation of the subject is peculiar; the syntactic possibility of this connection is established by Psalm 15:5, Job 40:2, and, in the second rank, by Genesis 17:10; Ezekiel 5:14. Yet אני might well enough have been omitted had וש אני וא not stood too remote. Regarding עדנה
(Note: Thus punctuated with Segol under Daleth, and ,נ raphatum, in F. H. J. P. Thus also Kimchi in W.B. under עד.)
and עדן. The circumstantial form of the expression: prae vivis qui vivi sunt adhuc, is intentional: they who are as yet living must be witnesses of the manifold and comfortless human miseries.
It is a question whether Ecclesiastes 4:3 begins a new clause (lxx, Syr., and Venet.) or not. That את, like the Arab. aiya, sometimes serves to give prominence to the subject, cannot be denied (vid., Bttcher, 516, and Mhlau's remarks thereto). The Mishnic expressions היּום אותו, that day, הארץ אותהּ, that land, and the like (Geiger, 14. 2), presuppose a certain preparation in the older language; and we might, with Weiss (Stud. ueber d. Spr. der Mishna, p. 112), interpret אשׁר את in the sense of אותי אשר, is qui. But the accus. rendering is more natural. Certainly the expression טוב שׁבּח, "to praise," "to pronounce happy," is not used; but to טוב it is natural to suppose וקראתי added. Jerome accordingly translates: et feliciorem utroque judicavi qui necdum natus est. הרע has the double Kametz, as is generally the case, except at Psalm 54:7 and Micah 7:3.
(Note: Vid., Heidenheim, Meor Enajim, under Deuteronomy 17:7.)
Better than he who is born is the unborn, who does not become conscious of the wicked actions that are done under the sun. A similar thought, with many variations in its expression, is found in Greek writers; see regarding these shrill discordances, which run through all the joy of the beauty and splendour of Hellenic life, my Apologetick, p. 116. Buddhism accordingly gives to nirvna the place of the highest good. That we find Koheleth on the same path (cf. Ecclesiastes 6:3; Ecclesiastes 7:1), has its reason in this, that so long as the central point of man's existence lies in the present life, and this is not viewed as the fore-court of eternity, there is no enduring consolation to lift us above the miseries of this present world.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man.
All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.
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.
Again, I saw vanity under the sun:
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.
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