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Even if a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years,
even if he lives a long, long time,[a] but cannot enjoy his prosperity—
even if he were to live forever[b]
I would say, “A stillborn child[c] is better off than he is.”[d]

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  1. Ecclesiastes 6:3 tn Heb “the days of his years are many.”
  2. Ecclesiastes 6:3 tn Heb “he has no burial.” The phrase וְגַם־קְבוּרָה לֹא־הָיְתָה (vegam qevurah loʾ hayetah, “he even has no burial”) is traditionally treated as part of a description of the man’s sorry final state, that is, he is deprived of even a proper burial (KJV, NEB, RSV, NRSV, ASV, NASB, NIV, NJPS, MLB, Moffatt). However, the preceding parallel lines suggest that this a hyperbolic protasis: “If he were to live one hundred years…even if he were never buried [i.e., were to live forever]….” A similar idea occurs elsewhere (e.g., Pss 49:9; 89:48). See D. R. Glenn, “Ecclesiastes,” BKCOT, 990.
  3. Ecclesiastes 6:3 tn The noun נֶפֶל (nefel) denotes “miscarriage” and by metonymy of effect, “stillborn child” (e.g., Ps 58:9; Job 3:16; Eccl 6:3); cf. HALOT 711. The noun is related to the verb נָפַל (nafal, “to fall,” but occasionally “to be born”; see Isa 26:18); cf. HALOT 710 s.v. נפל 5.
  4. Ecclesiastes 6:3 sn The point of 6:3-6 is that the futility of unenjoyed wealth is worse than the tragedy of being stillborn.