Ecclesiastes 4 (web)


4:1 Then I returned and saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun:
and, behold, the tears of those who were oppressed, and they had no comforter;
and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.
4:2 Therefore I praised the dead who have been long dead more than the living who are yet alive.
4:3 Yes, better than them both is him who has not yet been,
who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

Envy is the Motivation behind Hard Work

4:4 Then I saw all the labor and achievement that is the envy of a man's neighbor.
This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Self-destructive Behavior

4:5 The fool folds his hands together and ruins himself.
4:6 Better is a handful, with quietness, than two handfuls with labor and chasing after wind.
4:7 Then I returned and saw vanity under the sun.

4:8 There is one who is alone, and he has neither son nor brother.
There is no end to all of his labor, neither are his eyes satisfied with wealth.
For whom then, do I labor, and deprive my soul of enjoyment?
This also is vanity, yes, it is a miserable business.

4:9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.
4:10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow;
but woe to him who is alone when he falls, and doesn't have another to lift him up.
4:11 Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one keep warm alone?
4:12 If a man prevails against one who is alone, two shall withstand him;
and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
4:13 Better is a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king
who doesn't know how to receive admonition any more.
4:14 For out of prison he came forth to be king; yes, even in his kingdom he was born poor.
4:15 I saw all the living who walk under the sun,
that they were with the youth, the other, who succeeded him.
4:16 There was no end of all the people, even of all them over whom he was--
yet those who come after shall not rejoice in him.
Surely this also is vanity and a chasing after wind.


There are those who are being oppressed. There is much evil on the earth such that it is better that one not be alive to see it. Furthermore why do people work hard and strive for achievement? It is out of envy of their neighbor. On the other hand the fool refuses to work at all which leads to his ruin. Moderation is the best. Don't be lazy, but don't work too hard. For there are those who choose to live for nothing but labor and vain achievements.

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