Ecclesiastes 4
NET BibleInternational Standard Version
1So I again considered all the oppression that continually occurs on earth. This is what I saw: The oppressed were in tears, but no one was comforting them; no one delivers them from the power of their oppressors. 1Next I turned to consider all kinds of oppression that exists on earth. Look at the tears of the oppressed— there is no one to comfort them. Power is on the side of their oppressors; so they have no comforters.
2So I considered those who are dead and gone more fortunate than those who are still alive. 2So I commended the dead who had already died as being happier than the living who are still alive.
3But better than both is the one who has not been born and has not seen the evil things that are done on earth. 3Better than both of them is someone who has not yet been born, because he hasn't experienced evil on earth.
4Then I considered all the skillful work that is done: Surely it is nothing more than competition between one person and another. This also is profitless--like chasing the wind. 4Then I examined all sorts of work, including all kinds of excellent achievements that create envy in others. This also is pointless and chasing after the wind.
5The fool folds his hands and does no work, so he has nothing to eat but his own flesh. 5The fool crosses his arms and starves himself.
6Better is one handful with some rest than two hands full of toil and chasing the wind. 6It's better to have one handful of tranquility than to have two handfuls of trouble and to chase after the wind.
7So I again considered another futile thing on earth: 7Then I turned to re-examine something else that is pointless on earth:
8A man who is all alone with no companion, he has no children nor siblings; yet there is no end to all his toil, and he is never satisfied with riches. He laments, "For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?" This also is futile and a burdensome task! 8Consider someone who is alone, having neither son nor brother. There is no end to all of his work, and he is never satisfied with wealth. "So for whom do I work," he asks, "and deprive myself of pleasure?" This, too, is pointless and a terrible tragedy.
9Two people are better than one, because they can reap more benefit from their labor. 9Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.
10For if they fall, one will help his companion up, but pity the person who falls down and has no one to help him up. 10If they stumble, the first will lift up his friend—but woe to anyone who is alone when he falls and there is no one to help him get up.
11Furthermore, if two lie down together, they can keep each other warm, but how can one person keep warm by himself? 11Again, if two lie close together, they will keep warm, but how can only one stay warm?
12Although an assailant may overpower one person, two can withstand him. Moreover, a three-stranded cord is not quickly broken. 12If someone attacks one of them, the two of them together will resist. Furthermore, the tri-braided cord is not soon broken.
13A poor but wise youth is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive advice. 13A poor but wise youth is better than an old but foolish king who will no longer accept correction.
14For he came out of prison to become king, even though he had been born poor in what would become his kingdom. 14The former can come out of prison to reign, while the latter, even if born to kingship, may become poor.
15I considered all the living who walk on earth, as well as the successor who would arise in his place. 15I observed everyone who lives and walks on earth, along with the youth who will take the king's place.
16There is no end to all the people nor to the past generations, yet future generations will not rejoice in him. This also is profitless and like chasing the wind. 16There was no end to all of his subjects or to all of the people who had come before them. But those who come along afterward will not be happy with him. This is also pointless and a chasing after wind.
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Ecclesiastes 3
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