4 Again, I observed all the acts of oppression being done under the sun.(A) Look at the tears of those who are oppressed; they have no one to comfort them. Power is with those who oppress them; they have no one to comfort them. 2 So I commended the dead,(B) who have already died, more than the living, who are still alive. 3 But better than either of them is the one who has not yet existed,(C) who has not seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.
4 I saw that all labor and all skillful work is due to one person’s jealousy of another.(D) This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.[a](E)
5 The fool folds his arms(F)
and consumes his own flesh.(G)
6 Better one handful with rest
than two handfuls with effort and a pursuit of the wind.(H)
7 Again, I saw futility under the sun: 8 There is a person without a companion,[b] without even a son or brother, and though there is no end to all his struggles, his eyes are still not content with riches.(I) “Who am I struggling for,” he asks, “and depriving myself of good things?” This too is futile and a miserable task.
9 Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. 10 For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm?(J) 12 And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
13 Better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer pays attention to warnings.(K) 14 For he came from prison to be king,(L) even though he was born poor in his kingdom. 15 I saw all the living, who move about under the sun, follow[c] a second youth who succeeds him. 16 There is no limit to all the people who were before them, yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.(M)
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