The Existence of Oppression in the World Makes Human Existence Miserable
1I looked again, and I saw all the oppression that occurs under the sun.
I saw the tears of the oppressed—
no one comforts them!
Those who oppress them are powerful—
no one can comfort them!#Literally “And look! The tears of the oppressed, and there is no comforting for them, and from the hand of oppressors of them was power, and there is no comforting for them”
2So I deemed the dead who have already died
more fortunate than the living who are still alive.
3But better off than both of them is the one who has not yet been born
and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
People Need Balance in Their Approach to Labor
4I also realized that all of the toil and all of the skillful work that is done—it is envy between one man and another.#Literally “his friend” This also is vanity and chasing wind!
5The fool refuses to work with his hands,
so he has nothing to eat except his own skin!#Literally “The fool folds his hands and eats his flesh”
6Better is one handful with peace
than two fists full with toil and chasing wind.
Wealth without Someone with Which to Enjoy It is Futile
7I turned again and saw another vanity under the sun. 8Sometimes a man is all alone with no companion; he also has neither son nor brother. Yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eye is not satisfied with wealth. He laments, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself#Literally “his soul” of pleasure?” This also is vanity—it is an unhappy business!
Friends and Family Can Help One Another in Life
9Two are better than the one, for they enjoy a better reward for their toil. 10For if one falls, his companion may help him up. But pity the one who falls and there is no one#Literally “there is not a second” to help him up. 11Also if two lie together, they can keep each other warm.#Literally “and it will be warm for them” But how can one person be warm? 12Although an assailant may overpower one person, two may withstand him.#Literally “And even though he will prevail against him, the one; the second, they will withstand opposite him” A threefold cord is not easily broken!#Literally “will not be broken in haste”
One Must Be Willing to Listen to Counsel
13A poor but wise youth is better than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to receive advice.#Literally “how to be warned” 14For he came out of the prison house to reign, since he was born poor in his kingdom.#Literally “for all in his kingdom he was born poor” 15I saw all the living who move about under the sun with the youth; the second who will stand in his place. 16There is no end to all the people, to all who were before him. Yet the later generation will not rejoice in him, for this also is vanity and chasing wind!