Amplified Bible

Ecclesiastes 4

The Evils of Oppression

1Then I looked again and considered all the acts of oppression that were being practiced under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. So I congratulated and thought more fortunate are those who are already dead than the living who are still living. But better off than either of them is the one who has not yet been born, who has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.

I have seen that every [effort in] labor and every skill in work comes from man’s rivalry with his neighbor. This too is vanity (futility, false pride) and chasing after the wind. The fool folds his hands [together] and consumes his own flesh [destroying himself by idleness and apathy]. One hand full of rest and patience is better than two fists full of labor and chasing after the wind.

Then I looked again at vanity under the sun [in one of its peculiar forms]. There was a certain man—without a dependent, having neither a child nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, “For whom do I labor and deprive myself of pleasure?” This too is vanity (a wisp of smoke, self-conceit); yes, it is a painful effort and an unhappy task.

Two are better than one because they have a more satisfying return for their labor; 10 for if [a]either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and does not have another to lift him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, then they keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? 12 And though one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

13 A poor yet wise youth is better than an old and foolish king who [b]no longer knows how to receive instruction and counsel (friendly reproof, warning)— 14 for the poor youth has [used his wisdom and] come out of prison to become king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom. 15 I have seen all the living under the sun join with the second youth (the king’s acknowledged successor) who replaces him. 16 There is no end to all the people; to all who were before them. Yet those who come later will not be happy with him. Surely this also is vanity (emptiness) and chasing after the wind.

Notas al pie

  1. Ecclesiastes 4:10 Lit they fall.
  2. Ecclesiastes 4:13 God’s word calls on us to make our senior years a time of spiritual maturity and intellectual growth. A time to convert a lifetime of courageous morality, personal integrity, and character-building into a legacy that encourages and inspires the next generation.

New International Reader's Version

Ecclesiastes 4

Suffering, Hard Work and No Friends

1I looked and saw how much people were suffering on this earth.

I saw the tears of those who are suffering.
    They don’t have anyone to comfort them.
Power is on the side of those who treat them badly.
    Those who are suffering don’t have anyone to comfort them.
Then I announced that those
    who have already died
are happier than those
    who are still alive.
But someone who hasn’t been born yet
    is better off than the dead or the living.
That’s because that person hasn’t seen the evil things
    that are done on earth.

I also saw that a person works hard and accomplishes a lot. But they do it only because they want what another person has. That doesn’t have any meaning either. It’s like chasing the wind.

Foolish people fold their hands and don’t work.
    And that destroys them.
One handful with peace and quiet
    is better than two handfuls with hard work.
    Working too hard is like chasing the wind.

Again I saw something on earth that didn’t mean anything.

A man lived all by himself.
    He didn’t have any sons or brothers.
His hard work never ended.
    But he wasn’t happy with what he had.
“Who am I working so hard for?” he asked.
    “Why don’t I get the things I enjoy?”
That doesn’t have any meaning either.
    In fact, it’s a very bad deal!

Two people are better than one.
    They can help each other in everything they do.
10 Suppose either of them falls down.
    Then the one can help the other one up.
But suppose a person falls down and doesn’t have anyone to help them up.
    Then feel sorry for that person!
11 Or suppose two people lie down together.
    Then they’ll keep warm.
    But how can one person keep warm alone?
12 One person could be overpowered.
    But two people can stand up for themselves.
    And a rope made out of three cords isn’t easily broken.

Getting Ahead Is Meaningless

13 A poor but wise young man is better off than an old but foolish king. That king doesn’t pay attention to a warning anymore. 14 The young man might have come from prison to become king. Or he might have been born poor within the kingdom but still became king. 15 I saw that everyone was following the young man who had become the new king. 16 At first, all the people served him when he became king. But those who came later weren’t pleased with the way he was ruling. That doesn’t have any meaning either. It’s like chasing the wind.