Ecclesiastes 4
New Living TranslationEnglish Standard Version
1Again, I observed all the oppression that takes place under the sun. I saw the tears of the oppressed, with no one to comfort them. The oppressors have great power, and their victims are helpless.1Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them.
2So I concluded that the dead are better off than the living.2And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive.
3But most fortunate of all are those who are not yet born. For they have not seen all the evil that is done under the sun.3But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
4Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.4Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
5“Fools fold their idle hands, leading them to ruin.”5The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh.
6And yet, “Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.” The Advantages of Companionship6Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.
7I observed yet another example of something meaningless under the sun.7Again, I saw vanity under the sun:
8This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, “Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?” It is all so meaningless and depressing.8one 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.
9Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.9Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
10If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.10For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
11Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?11Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?
12A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. The Futility of Political Power12And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
13It is better to be a poor but wise youth than an old and foolish king who refuses all advice.13Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice.
14Such a youth could rise from poverty and succeed. He might even become king, though he has been in prison.14For he went from prison to the throne, though in his own kingdom he had been born poor.
15But then everyone rushes to the side of yet another youth who replaces him.15I saw all the living who move about under the sun, along with that youth who was to stand in the king’s place.
16Endless crowds stand around him, but then another generation grows up and rejects him, too. So it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.16There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.ESV Text Edition: 2016. The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.
Ecclesiastes 3
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