The Evils of Oppression
4 Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold, I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and power was on the side of their oppressors, but they had no one to comfort them. 2 So I congratulated the dead who are already dead, more than the living who are still living. 3 But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.
4 I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a person and his neighbor. This too is futility and striving after wind. 5 The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh. 6 One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.
7 Then I looked again at futility under the sun. 8 There was a man without a [a]dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches, and he never asked, “And for whom do I labor and deprive myself of pleasure?” This too is futility, and it is an unhappy task.
9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor; 10 for if [b]either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not [c]another to lift him up! 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they [d]keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if [e]one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
13 A poor yet wise youth is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive [f]instruction— 14 for he has come out of prison to become king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom. 15 I have seen all those living under the sun move to the side of the second youth who [g]replaces him. 16 There is no end to all the people, to all who were before them. Even the ones who will come later will not be happy with him; for this too is futility and striving after wind.
- Ecclesiastes 4:8 Lit second
- Ecclesiastes 4:10 Lit they fall
- Ecclesiastes 4:10 Lit a second
- Ecclesiastes 4:11 Lit have warmth
- Ecclesiastes 4:12 Lit he
- Ecclesiastes 4:13 Or warning
- Ecclesiastes 4:15 Lit stands in his place