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Ecclesiastes 4:4–8

Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is avanity1 and a striving after wind.

The fool bfolds his hands and ceats his own flesh.

dBetter is a handful of equietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.

uAgain, I saw vanity under the sun: one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his feyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, g“For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy hbusiness.

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Ecclesiastes 4:4–8 — The New International Version (NIV)

And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Fools fold their hands

and ruin themselves.

Better one handful with tranquillity

than two handfuls with toil

and chasing after the wind.

Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:

There was a man all alone;

he had neither son nor brother.

There was no end to his toil,

yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.

“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,

“and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”

This too is meaningless—

a miserable business!

Ecclesiastes 4:4–8 — King James Version (KJV 1900)

Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit. The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh. Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.

Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun. There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.

Ecclesiastes 4:4–8 — New Living Translation (NLT)

Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

“Fools fold their idle hands,

leading them to ruin.”

And yet,

“Better to have one handful with quietness

than two handfuls with hard work

and chasing the wind.”

I observed yet another example of something meaningless under the sun. This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, “Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?” It is all so meaningless and depressing.

Ecclesiastes 4:4–8 — The New King James Version (NKJV)

Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbor. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.

The fool folds his hands

And consumes his own flesh.

Better a handful with quietness

Than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind.

Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun:

There is one alone, without companion:

He has neither son nor brother.

Yet there is no end to all his labors,

Nor is his eye satisfied with riches.

But he never asks,

“For whom do I toil and deprive myself of good?”

This also is vanity and a grave misfortune.

Ecclesiastes 4:4–8 — New Century Version (NCV)

I realized the reason people work hard and try to succeed: They are jealous of each other. This, too, is useless, like chasing the wind.

Some say it is foolish to fold your hands and do nothing,

because you will starve to death.

Maybe so, but I say it is better to be content

with what little you have.

Otherwise, you will always be struggling for more,

and that is like chasing the wind.

Again I saw something here on earth that was useless:

I saw a man who had no family,

no son or brother.

He always worked hard

but was never satisfied with what he had.

He never asked himself, “For whom am I working so hard?

Why don’t I let myself enjoy life?”

This also is very sad and useless.

Ecclesiastes 4:4–8 — American Standard Version (ASV)

Then I saw all labor and every skilful work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh. Better is a handful, with quietness, than two handfuls with labor and striving after wind.

Then I returned and saw vanity under the sun. There is one that is alone, and he hath not a second; yea, he hath neither son nor brother; yet is there no end of all his labor, neither are his eyes satisfied with riches. For whom then, saith he, do I labor, and deprive my soul of good? This also is vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.

Ecclesiastes 4:4–8 — 1890 Darby Bible (DARBY)

And I saw all labour, and all success of work, that it is man’s jealousy of his neighbour. This also is vanity and pursuit of the wind. The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh. Better is a handful with quietness, than both hands full with labour and pursuit of the wind.

And I returned and saw vanity under the sun. There is one alone and without a second; also he hath neither son nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour, neither is his eye satisfied with riches, and he saith not, For whom then am I labouring, and depriving my soul of good? This also is vanity and a grievous occupation.

Ecclesiastes 4:4–8 — GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

Then I saw that all hard work and skillful effort come from rivalry. Even this is pointless. ⸤It’s like⸥ trying to catch the wind. A fool folds his hands and wastes away. One handful of peace and quiet is better than two handfuls of hard work and of trying to catch the wind. 

Next, I turned to look at something pointless under the sun: There are people who are all alone. They have no children or other family members. So there is no end to all the hard work they have to do. Their eyes are never satisfied with riches. But ⸤they never ask themselves⸥ why they are working so hard and depriving themselves of good things. Even this is pointless and a terrible tragedy. 

Ecclesiastes 4:4–8 — The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

I saw that all labor and all skillful work is due to a man’s jealousy of his friend. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.

The fool folds his arms

and consumes his own flesh.

Better one handful with rest

than two handfuls with effort and a pursuit of the wind.

Again, I saw futility under the sun: There is a person without a companion, without even a son or brother, and though there is no end to all his struggles, his eyes are still not content with riches. “So who am I struggling for,” he asks, “and depriving myself from good?” This too is futile and a miserable task.

Ecclesiastes 4:4–8 — The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from one person’s envy of another. This also is vanity and a chasing after wind.

Fools fold their hands

and consume their own flesh.

Better is a handful with quiet

than two handfuls with toil,

and a chasing after wind.

Again, I saw vanity under the sun: the case of solitary individuals, without sons or brothers; yet there is no end to all their toil, and their eyes are never satisfied with riches. “For whom am I toiling,” they ask, “and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.

Ecclesiastes 4:4–8 — The Lexham English Bible (LEB)

I also realized that all of the toil and all of the skillful work that is done—it is envy between one man and another. This also is vanity and chasing wind!

The fool refuses to work with his hands,

so he has nothing to eat except his own skin!

Better is one handful with peace

than two fists full with toil and chasing wind.

I turned again and saw another vanity under the sun. Sometimes a man is all alone with no companion; he also has neither son nor brother. Yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eye is not satisfied with wealth. He laments, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity—it is an unhappy business!

Ecclesiastes 4:4–8 — New International Reader’s Version (1998) (NIrV)

I also saw that man works hard and accomplishes a lot. But he does it only because he wants what his neighbor has. That doesn’t have any meaning either. It’s like chasing the wind.

A foolish person folds his hands and doesn’t work.

And that destroys him.

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!

Ecclesiastes 4:4–8 — New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (NASB95)

I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind.

The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh.

One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.

Then I looked again at vanity under the sun.

There was a certain man without 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 am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?” This too is vanity and it is a grievous task.


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