16 And I saw something else under the sun:

In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
    in the place of justice—wickedness was there.

17 I said to myself,

“God will bring into judgment(A)
    both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
    a time to judge every deed.”(B)

18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals.(C) 19 Surely the fate of human beings(D) is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath[a]; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.(E) 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward(F) and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”

22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work,(G) because that is their lot.(H) For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?

Oppression, Toil, Friendlessness

Again I looked and saw all the oppression(I) 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.(J)
And I declared that the dead,(K)
    who had already died,
are happier than the living,
    who are still alive.(L)
But better than both
    is the one who has never been born,(M)
who has not seen the evil
    that is done under the sun.(N)

Footnotes

  1. Ecclesiastes 3:19 Or spirit