In the place of judgment, Wickedness was there; And in the place of righteousness, Iniquity was there.
17 I said in my heart,
“God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, For there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.”
18 I said in my heart, “Concerning the condition of the sons of men, God tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like animals.” 19 For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. 20 All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust. 21 Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?[a]22 So I perceived that nothing is better than that a man should rejoice in his own works, for that is his heritage. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?
4 Then I returned and considered all the oppression that is done under the sun:
And look! The tears of the oppressed, But they have no comforter— On the side of their oppressors there is power, But they have no comforter. 2 Therefore I praised the dead who were already dead, More than the living who are still alive. 3 Yet, better than both is he who has never existed, Who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
The Vanity of Selfish Toil
4 Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbor. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.
5 The fool folds his hands And consumes his own flesh. 6 Better a handful with quietness Than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind.
7 Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun:
8 There is one alone, without companion: He has neither son nor brother. Yet there is no end to all his labors, Nor is his eye satisfied with riches. But he never asks, “For whom do I toil and deprive myself of good?” This also is vanity and a grave misfortune.
The Value of a Friend
9 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Popularity Passes Away
13 Better a poor and wise youth Than an old and foolish king who will be admonished no more. 14 For he comes out of prison to be king, Although he was born poor in his kingdom. 15 I saw all the living who walk under the sun; They were with the second youth who stands in his place. 16 There was no end of all the people over whom he was made king; Yet those who come afterward will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and grasping for the wind.
Ecclesiastes 3:21Septuagint, Syriac, Targum, and Vulgate read Who knows whether the spirit . . . goes upward, and whether . . . goes downward to the earth?
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