Oppression, toil, friendlessness
1Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:
I saw the tears of the oppressed –
and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors –
and they have no comforter.
2And I declared that the dead,
who had already died,
are happier than the living,
who are still alive.
3But better than both
is the one who has never been born,
who has not seen the evil
that is done under the sun.
4And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
5Fools fold their hands
and ruin themselves.
6Better one handful with tranquillity
than two handfuls with toil
and chasing after the wind.
7Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:
8there was a man all alone;
he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
‘For whom am I toiling,’ he asked,
‘and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?’
This too is meaningless –
a miserable business!
9Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labour:
10if either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Advancement is meaningless
13Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning. 14The youth may have come from prison to the kingship, or he may have been born in poverty within his kingdom. 15I saw that all who lived and walked under the sun followed the youth, the king’s successor. 16There was no end to all the people who were before them. But those who came later were not pleased with the successor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.