1 THEN I returned and considered all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun: And I beheld the tears of the oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they [too] had no comforter.
2 So I praised and thought more fortunate those who have been long dead than the living, who are still alive.
3 But better than them both [I thought] is he who has not yet been born, who has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
4 Then I saw that all painful effort in labor and all skill in work comes from man's rivalry with his neighbor. This is also vanity, a vain striving after the wind and a feeding on it.
5 The fool folds his hands together and eats his own flesh [destroying himself by indolence].
6 Better is a handful with quietness than both hands full with painful effort, a vain striving after the wind and a feeding on it.
7 Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun [in one of its peculiar forms].
8 Here is one alone–no one with him; he neither has child nor brother. Yet there is no end to all his labor, neither is his eye satisfied with riches, neither does he ask, For whom do I labor and deprive myself of good? This is also vanity (emptiness, falsity, and futility); yes, it is a painful effort and an unhappy business. [Prov. 27:20; I John 2:16.]
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good [more satisfying] reward for their labor;
10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
11 Again, if two lie down together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone?
12 And though a man might prevail against him who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.
13 Better is a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive counsel (friendly reproof and warning)–
14 Even though [the youth] comes out of prison to reign, while the other, born a king, becomes needy.
15 I saw all the living who walk under the sun with the youth who was to stand up in the king's stead.
16 There was no end to all the people; he was over all of them. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity (emptiness, falsity, vainglory) and a striving after the wind and a feeding on it.