Common English Bible
Death is better than oppression
4 When I next observed all the oppressions that take place under the sun, I saw the tears of the oppressed—and they have no one to comfort them. Their oppressors wield power—but they have no one to comfort them. 2 So I declare that the dead, who have already died, are more fortunate than the living, who are still alive. 3 But happier than both are those who have never existed, who haven’t witnessed the terrible things that happen under the sun.
Envy and loneliness
4 I also observed that people work hard and become good at what they do only out of mutual envy. This too is pointless, just wind chasing.
5 Fools fold their hands and eat their own flesh.
6 But better is resting with one handful
than working hard for two fistfuls and chasing after wind.
7 Next, I saw under the sun something else that was pointless: 8 There are people who are utterly alone, with no companions, not even a child or a sibling. Yet they work hard without end, never satisfied with their wealth. So for whom am I working so hard and depriving myself of enjoyment? This too is pointless and a terrible obsession.
9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their hard work. 10 If either should fall, one can pick up the other. But how miserable are those who fall and don’t have a companion to help them up! 11 Also, if two lie down together, they can stay warm. But how can anyone stay warm alone? 12 Also, one can be overpowered, but two together can put up resistance. A three-ply cord doesn’t easily snap.
13 A poor but wise youth is better than an old and foolish king, who no longer listens to advice. 14 He emerged from prison to become king, even though during his rule a poor child[a] is born. 15 I saw all who live and walk under the sun following the next youth who would rise to take his place. 16 There was no counting the number of people he ruled, but those who came later aren’t happy with him. This too is pointless and a chasing after wind.