4 Again I saw all the people who were ·mistreated [oppressed] ·here on earth [L under the sun; 1:3]. I saw ·their tears [L the tears of the oppressed] and that they had no one to comfort them. ·Cruel people had [Oppressors have] all the power, and there was no one to comfort those they hurt. 2 I ·decided that the dead are better off than the living [L praised the dead who were already dead more than the living who are still alive]. 3 But those who have never ·been born [existed; L been] are better off still; they have not seen the evil that is done ·here on earth [L under the sun; 1:3].
Why Work So Hard?
4 I ·realized [saw; observed] the reason people ·work hard [toil] and try to succeed: They are jealous of ·each other [L their neighbors]. This, too, is useless [1:2], like chasing the wind.
5 ·Some say it is foolish to fold your hands and do nothing [L Fools fold their hands], ·because you will starve to death [L and consume their own flesh; Prov. 6:9–11; 10:4; 24:30–34]. 6 ·Maybe so, but I say it is better to be content with what little you have [L Better one handful with rest]. ·Otherwise, you will always be struggling for more [L …than two handfuls with hard work/toil; Prov. 15:15; 16:8; 17:1], and that is like chasing the wind.
7 ·Again I [L I turned and] saw something ·here on earth [L under the sun; 1:3] that was useless [1:2]: 8 ·I saw a man who had no family [L There was one, but not a second], no son or brother. ·He always worked hard [L There was no end to all his hard work/toil] but ·was never satisfied with what he had [L his eye was never satisfied with his work]. He ·never asked [or asked] himself, “For whom am I ·working so hard [toiling]? Why ·don’t I let myself enjoy life [L do I deprive myself of good]?” This also is ·very sad [or an evil task/occupation] and useless [1:2].
Friends and Family Give Strength
9 Two people are better than one, because they get ·more done by working together [L a good return for their hard work/toil]. 10 If one falls down, the other can help ·him [L his colleague] up. But it is ·bad [a pity] for the person who is alone and falls, because no one is there to help. 11 If two lie down together, they will be warm, but a person alone will not be warm. 12 ·An enemy [L Someone] might ·defeat [overpower] one person, but two people together can ·defend themselves [L stand up against them]; ·a rope that is woven of three strings is hard to break [T a three-stranded cord does not quickly snap; C having a friend is good, having more friends is better].
Fame and Power Are Useless
13 A poor but wise ·boy [youth] is better than a foolish but old king who doesn’t listen to advice [Prov. 11:14; 15:22; 20:18; 24:6]. 14 The ·boy [youth] became king. He had been born poor in the kingdom and had even gone to prison before becoming king. 15 I ·watched [saw; observed] all the people who ·lived on earth [L walked under the sun; 1:3] follow ·him and make him their king [or the next youth who replaced the first youth/L him]. 16 ·Many followed him at first [L There was no end to all the people, to all those whom he led], but later, they did not like him, either. ·So fame and power are [L This is] useless [1:2], like chasing the wind.
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