The Evil of Oppression
1 Again I looked, and I considered all the oppression taking place under the sun. I saw the tears of the oppressed, and they had no comforter; the power lay in the hands of their oppressors, and there was no comforter. 2 So I admired the dead, who had already died, above the living, who are still alive. 3 But better than both is he who has not yet existed, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun.
4 I saw that all labor and success spring from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.
5 The fool folds his hands
and consumes his own flesh.
6 Better one handful with tranquility
than two handfuls with toil and pursuit of the wind.
7 Again, I saw futility under the sun. 8 There is a man all alone, without even a son or brother. And though there is no end to his labor, his eyes are still not content with his wealth: “For whom do I toil and bereave my soul of enjoyment?” This too is futile—a miserable task.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if one falls down, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to help him up! 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though one may be overpowered, two can resist. Moreover, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
The Futility of Power
13 Better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to take a warning. 14 For the youth has come from the prison to the kingship, though he was born poor in his own kingdom.
15 I saw that all who lived and walked under the sun followed this second one, the youth who succeeded the king. 16 There is no limit to all the people who were before them. Yet the successor will not be celebrated by those who come even later. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.