Again, I observed all the acts of oppression being done under the sun. 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.
So I admired the dead, who have already died, more than the living, who are still alive.
But better than either of them is the one who has not yet existed, who has not seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.
I saw that all labor and all skillful work is due to a man's jealousy of his friend. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.
The fool folds his arms and consumes his own flesh.
Better one handful with rest, than two handfuls with effort and pursuit of the wind.
Again, I saw futility under the sun:
There is a person without a companion, without even a son or brother, and though there is no end to all his struggles, his eyes are still not content with riches. "So who am I struggling for," [he asks,] "and depriving myself from good?" This too is futile and a miserable task.
Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.
For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.
Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm?
And if somebody overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
Better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer pays attention to warnings.
For he came from prison to be king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom.
I saw all the living who move about under the sun follow a second youth who succeeds him.
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.
Guard your step when you go to the house of God. Better to draw near in obedience than to offer the sacrifice as fools do, for they are ignorant and do wrong.
Do not be hasty to speak, and do not be impulsive to make a speech before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.
For dreams result from much work and a fool's voice from many words.
When you make a vow to God, don't delay fulfilling it, because He does not delight in fools. Fulfill what you vow.
Better that you do not vow than that you vow and not fulfill it.
Do not let your mouth bring guilt on you, and do not say in the presence of the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry with your words and destroy the work of your hands?
For many dreams bring futility, also many words. So, fear God.
If you see oppression of the poor and perversion of justice and righteousness in the province, don't be astonished at the situation, because one official protects another official, and higher officials [protect] them.
The profit from the land is taken by all; the king is served by the field.
The one who loves money is never satisfied with money, and whoever loves wealth [is] never [satisfied] with income. This too is futile.
When good things increase, the ones who consume them multiply; what, then, is the profit to the owner, except to gaze at them with his eyes?
The sleep of the worker is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich permits him no sleep.
There is a sickening tragedy I have seen under the sun: wealth kept by its owner to his harm.
That wealth was lost in a bad venture, so when he fathered a son, he was empty-handed.
As he came from his mother's womb, so he will go again, naked as he came; he will take nothing for his efforts that he can carry in his hands.
This too is a sickening tragedy: exactly as he comes, so he will go. What does he gain who struggles for the wind?
What is more, he eats in darkness all his days, with much sorrow, sickness, and anger.
Here is what I have seen to be good: it is appropriate to eat, drink, and experience good in all the labor one does under the sun during the few days of his life God has given him, because that is his reward.
God has also given riches and wealth to every man, and He has allowed him to enjoy them, take his reward, and rejoice in his labor. This is a gift of God,
for he does not often consider the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with the joy of his heart.
Here is a tragedy I have observed under the sun, and it weighs heavily on humanity:
God gives a man riches, wealth, and honor so that he lacks nothing of all he desires for himself, but God does not allow him to enjoy them. Instead, a stranger will enjoy them. This is futile and a sickening tragedy.
A man may father a hundred children and live many years. No matter how long he lives, if he is not satisfied by good things and does not even have a proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.
For he comes in futility and he goes in darkness, and his name is shrouded in darkness.
Though a stillborn child does not see the sun and is not conscious, it has more rest than he.
And if he lives a thousand years twice, but does not experience happiness, do not both go to the same place?
All man's labor is for his stomach, yet the appetite is never satisfied.
What advantage then does the wise man have over the fool? What [advantage] is there for the poor person who knows how to conduct himself before others?
Better what the eyes see than wandering desire. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.
Whatever exists was given its name long ago, and who man is, is known. But he is not able to contend with the One stronger than he.
For when there are many words, they increase futility. What is the advantage for man?
For who knows what is good for man in life, in the few days of his futile life that he spends like a shadow? Who can tell man what will happen after him under the sun?