The Bible – Old Testament
Again I considered all the oppressions that take place under the sun: the tears of the victims with none to comfort them! From the hand of their oppressors comes violence, and there is none to comfort them!
And those now dead, I declared more fortunate in death than are the living to be still alive.
And better off than both is the yet unborn, who has not seen the wicked work that is done under the sun.
Then I saw that all toil and skillful work is the rivalry of one man for another. This also is vanity and a chase after wind.
1 “The fool folds his arms and consumes his own flesh” –
Better is one handful with tranquility than two with toil and a chase after wind!
Again I found this vanity under the sun:
a solitary man with no companion; with neither son nor brother. Yet there is no end to all his toil, and riches do not satisfy his greed. “For whom do I toil and deprive myself of good things?” This also is vanity and a worthless task.
Two are better than one: they get a good wage for their labor.
If the one falls, the other will lift up his companion. Woe to the solitary man! For if he should fall, he has no one to lift him up.
So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. How can one alone keep warm?
Where a lone man may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.
Better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows caution;
2 for from a prison house one comes forth to rule, since even in his royalty he was poor at birth.
3 Then I saw all those who are to live and move about under the sun with the heir apparent who will succeed to his place.
There is no end to all these people, to all over whom he takes precedence; yet the later generations will not applaud him. This also is vanity and a chase after wind.
4 Guard your step when you go to the house of God. Let your approach be obedience, rather than the fools’ offering of sacrifice; for they know not how to keep from doing evil.
1  Consumes his own flesh: refuses to work for the necessities of life and consequently suffers hunger and impairs his bodily health.
2  Prison house: probably his mother’s womb, from which the king issues without possessions. Cf ⇒ Eccl 5:14.
3  The king is no sooner dead than the people transfer their allegiance to his successor.