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Ecclesiastes 4New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition (NRSVACE)

Again I saw all the oppressions that are practised under the sun. Look, the tears of the oppressed—with no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power—with no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead, who have already died, more fortunate than the living, who are still alive; but better than both is the one who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.

Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from one person’s envy of another. This also is vanity and a chasing after wind.[a]

Fools fold their hands
    and consume their own flesh.
Better is a handful with quiet
    than two handfuls with toil,
    and a chasing after wind.[b]

Again, I saw vanity under the sun: the case of solitary individuals, without sons or brothers; yet there is no end to all their toil, and their eyes are never satisfied with riches. ‘For whom am I toiling’, they ask, ‘and depriving myself of pleasure?’ This also is vanity and an unhappy business.

The Value of a Friend

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

13 Better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king, who will no longer take advice. 14 One can indeed come out of prison to reign, even though born poor in the kingdom. 15 I saw all the living who, moving about under the sun, follow that[c] youth who replaced the king;[d] 16 there was no end to all those people whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a chasing after wind.[e]

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 4:4 Or a feeding on wind. See Hos 12.1
  2. Ecclesiastes 4:6 Or a feeding on wind. See Hos 12.1
  3. Ecclesiastes 4:15 Heb the second
  4. Ecclesiastes 4:15 Heb him
  5. Ecclesiastes 4:16 Or a feeding on wind. See Hos 12.1
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition (NRSVACE)

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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