Ecclesiastes, CHAPTER 4
Vanity of Toil.
Again I saw all the oppressions that take place under the sun: the tears of the victims with none to comfort them! From the hand of their oppressors comes violence, and there is none to comfort them!
And those now dead, I declared more fortunate in death than are the living to be still alive.
And better off than both is the yet unborn, who has not seen the wicked work that is done under the sun.
Then I saw that all toil and skillful work is the rivalry of one person with another. This also is vanity and a chase after wind.
“Fools fold their arms
and consume their own flesh”―
Better is one handful with tranquility
than two with toil and a chase after wind!
Companions and Successors.
Again I saw this vanity under the sun:
those all alone with no companion, with neither child nor sibling―with no end to all their toil, and no satisfaction from riches. For whom do I toil and deprive myself of good things? This also is vanity and a bad business.
Two are better than one: They get a good wage for their toil.
If the one falls, the other will help the fallen one. But woe to the solitary person! If that one should fall, there is no other to help.
So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. How can one alone keep warm?
Where one alone may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.
Better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows caution;
for from a prison house he came forth to reign; despite his kingship he was born poor.
I saw all the living, those who move about under the sun, with the second youth who will succeed him.
There is no end to all this people, to all who were before them; yet the later generations will not have joy in him. This also is vanity and a chase after wind.
Vanity of Many Words.
Guard your step when you go to the house of God. Draw near for obedience, rather than for the fools’ offering of sacrifice; for they know not how to keep from doing evil.