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Ecclesiastes 5:8–6:12

Powerful Bureaucrats Exploit the Helpless Poor

Do not be surprised if you see the poor being oppressed with violence

or do not see justice and righteousness in the province.

For one official is watched by a higher official,

and there are even higher officials over them!

The produce of the land is exploited by everyone;

even the king profits from the field of the poor!c

There is Never Enough Money to Satisfy

10 Whoever loves money is not satisfied with money,

and whoever loves wealth is not satisfied with profit.

This also is vanity!

11 When prosperity increases,

those who consume it increase.

So its owner gains nothing,

except to see his wealth before it is spent.d

12 The sleep of the laborer is pleasant, whether he eats little or much,

but the wealth of the rich man does not allow him to rest.

Hoarding Wealth Can Backfire

13 There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: wealth hoardede by its owner to his harm. 14 That wealth was lost in a bad venture. Although he has borne a child, he has nothing to leave to him.f 15 Just as he came from his mother’s womb naked, he will departg just as he came; he will take nothing with him for his toil. 16 This also is a grievous illness. Exactly as he came, so he will go. What profit does he gain for all his toil for the wind? 17 Also, he eats in darkness all his days; he is frustrated in much sickness and resentment.

If You Have Wealth, Enjoy It as God Enables

18 Look! I have discovered what is good and fitting: to eat and to drink and to enjoyh all the fruit of the toil with which one toils under the sun during the number of the days of his life that God gives to him—for this is his lot.i 19 This indeed is a gift of God: everyone to whom God gives wealth and possessions, he also empowers him to enjoy them,j to accept his lot, and to rejoice in the fruit of his toil. 20 For he does not remember the brief days of his life, for God keeps his heart preoccupied with enjoyment of life.

Those Who Have Wealth but Do Not Enjoy It Are Pitiful

6 Here is another misfortune that I have seen under the sun, and it is prevalent among humankind. God gives a man wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing his heart desires; yet God does not enable him to enjoy it—instead someone else ends up enjoying it. This is vanity—indeed, it is a grievous ill!

Even if a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years so that the days of his years are many, if his hearta is not satisfied with his prosperityb and he does not receive a proper burial,c I deem the stillborn better than him. For he comes into vanity and departs into darkness, and his name is shrouded in darkness. He has neither seen nor known the sun, yet he has more rest than him. Even if a mand lives a thousand years twice, if hee does not enjoy prosperity,f both suffer the same fate!g

One Must Learn to Be Content with What One Has

All of a man’s toil is for his mouth—

yet his appetite is never satisfied.

So do the wise really have an advantage over fools?

Can the poor really gain anything by knowing how to act in front of others?h

Better to be content with what your eyes see

than for your soul to constantly crave more.i

This also is vanity and chasing wind!

It is Futile for Humans to Complain about God’s Irresistible Will

10 Whatever is—it was already determined,

what will be—it has already been decided.j

As for man, he cannot argue

against what is more powerful than him.

11 Increasing words only multiplies futility,k

how does that profit anyone?

The Future is Inscrutable to Humans

12 For who knows what is good for a man in his life during the few days of his fleeting life, which are fleeting as a shadow? For who can tell anyone what will happen in the futurel under the sun?

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