Injustice Seems to Prevail

16 Moreover (A)I saw under the sun:

In the place of [a]judgment,
Wickedness was there;
And in the place of righteousness,
[b]Iniquity was there.

17 I said in my heart,

(B)“God shall judge the righteous and the wicked,
For there is a time there for every [c]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 (C)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: (D)all are from the dust, and all return to dust. 21 (E)Who[d] knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth? 22 (F)So I perceived that nothing is better than that a man should rejoice in his own works, for (G)that is his [e]heritage. (H)For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?

The Uselessness of Selfish Toil

Then I returned and considered all the (I)oppression that is done under the sun:

And look! The tears of the oppressed,
But they have no comforter—
[f]On the side of their oppressors there is power,
But they have no comforter.
(J)Therefore I praised the dead who were already dead,
More than the living who are still alive.
(K)Yet, better than both is he who has never existed,
Who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.


  1. Ecclesiastes 3:16 justice
  2. Ecclesiastes 3:16 Wickedness
  3. Ecclesiastes 3:17 desire
  4. Ecclesiastes 3:21 LXX, Syr., Tg., Vg. Who knows whether the spirit . . . goes upward, and whether . . . goes downward to the earth?
  5. Ecclesiastes 3:22 portion or lot
  6. Ecclesiastes 4:1 Lit. At the hand

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