Ecclesiastes Chapter 4 to 6 : Easy-to-Read Version  | SearchSearch | Next Version | Previous Page | Next Page |

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Is It Better to be Dead?

4 Again I saw that many people are treated badly. I saw their tears. And I saw that there was no one to comfort those sad people. I saw cruel people had all the power. And I saw that there was no one to comfort the people they hurt. 2I decided that things are better for people that have died than for people that are still alive. 3And things are even better {for people that die at birth! Why? Because} they never saw the evil that is done in this world.*

Why Work So Hard?

4Then I thought, “Why do people work so hard?” I saw people try to succeed and be better than other people. Why? Because people are jealous. They don’t want other people to have more than they have. This is senseless. It is like trying to catch the wind.* 5Some people say, “It is foolish to fold your hands and do nothing. If you don’t work, you will starve to death.” 6Maybe that is true. But I say it is better to be satisfied with the few things you have than to always be struggling to get more. 7Again I saw something else that didn’t make sense: 8A person might not have any family. He might not have a son or even a brother. But that person will continue to work very, very hard. That person is never satisfied with what he has. And he works so hard that he never stops and asks himself, “Why am I working so hard? Why don’t I let myself enjoy my life?” This is also a very bad and senseless thing.

Friends and Family Give Strength

9Two people are better than one. When two people work together, they get more from the work they do. 10If one person falls, then the other person can help him. But it is very bad for the person that is alone when he falls—there is no one there to help him. 11If two people sleep together, they will be warm. But a person sleeping alone will not be warm. 12An enemy might be able to defeat one person, but that enemy can’t defeat two people. {And three people are even stronger. They are like} a rope that has three parts wrapped together—it is very hard to break.

People, Politics, and Popularity

13A young leader that is poor but wise is better than a king that is old but foolish. That old king does not listen to warnings. 14Maybe that young ruler was born a poor man in the kingdom. And maybe he came from prison to rule the country. 15But I have watched people in this life, {and I know this:} People will follow that young man. He will become the new king. 16Many, many people will follow this young man. But later, those same people will not like him. This is also senseless. It is like trying to catch the wind.*

in this world Literally, “under the sun.” trying to catch the wind Or, “It is very troubling to the spirit.” The word for “troubling” can also mean “craving” and the word for “spirit” can also mean “wind.”

Be Careful About Making Promises

5 Be very careful when you go to worship God. It is better to listen {to God} than to give sacrifices* like foolish people. Foolish people often do bad things, and they don’t even know it. 2Be careful when you make promises to God. Be careful about the things you say to God. Don’t let your feelings cause you to speak too soon. God is in heaven, and you are on the earth. So you need to say only a few things to God. This saying is true: 3Bad dreams come with too many worries, and a fool with too many words.  4If you make a promise to God, then keep your promise. Don’t be slow to do the thing you promised. God is not happy with foolish people. Give God what you promised to give him. 5It is better to promise nothing than to promise something and not be able to do it. 6So don’t let your words cause you to sin. Don’t say to the priest,* “I didn’t mean what I said!” If you do this, then God might become angry with your words and destroy everything you have worked for. 7You should not let your useless dreams and bragging {bring you trouble}. You should respect God.

For Every Ruler There Is a Ruler

8In some country you might see poor people that are forced to work very hard. You might see that this is not fair to the poor people. It is against the rights of the poor people. But don’t be surprised! The ruler that forces those people to work has another ruler that forces him. And there is still another ruler that forces both of these rulers. 9Even the king is a slave—his country owns him.*

Wealth Can’t Buy Happiness

10The person that loves money will never be satisfied with the money he has. The person that loves wealth will not be satisfied when he gets more and more. This is also senseless. 11The more wealth a person has, the more “friends” he has to help spend it. So that rich person really gains nothing. He can only look at his wealth. 12A man that works hard all day comes home and sleeps in peace. It is not important if he has little or much to eat. But a rich person worries about his wealth and is not able to sleep. 13There is a very sad thing that I have seen happen in this life. A person saves his money for the future.* 14And then something bad happens and he loses everything. So that person has nothing to give to his son.

We Come with Nothing—We Leave with Nothing

15A person comes into the world from his mother’s body with nothing. And when that person dies, he leaves the same way—with nothing. He works hard to get things. But he can take nothing with him when he dies. 16That is very sad. He will leave the world the same way he came. So, what does a person gain from his “trying to catch the wind”? 17He only gets days that are filled with sadness and sorrow. In the end, he is frustrated, sick, and angry!

Enjoy Your Life’s Work

18I have seen that this is the best a person can do: A person should eat, drink, and enjoy the work he does during his short life on earth. God has given him these few days, and that is all he has. 19If God gives a person wealth, property, and the power to enjoy those things, then that person should enjoy them. That person should accept the things he has and enjoy his work—that is a gift from God. 20A person does not have many years to live. So he must remember these things all his life. God will keep him busy with the work that person loves to do.*

sacrifices A gift to God. Sometimes it was a special kind of animal that was killed and burned on an altar. priest Or, “angel,” “messenger.” This might be an angel, or it might be a priest or a prophet who speaks for God. The ruler … owns him Or, “One ruler is cheated by a higher ruler. And they are cheated by an even higher ruler. 9Even the king gets his share of the profit. The wealth of the country is divided among them.” for the future Or, “to his harm.” God … to do Or, “God will do whatever he wants to that person.”

Wealth Does Not Bring Happiness

6 I have seen another thing in this life that is not fair. It is very hard to understand: 2God gives a person great wealth, riches, and honor. That person has everything he needs and everything he could ever want. But then God does not let that person enjoy those things. Some stranger comes and takes everything. This is a very bad and senseless thing. 3A person might live a long time. And that person might have 100 children. But if that person is not satisfied with those good things, and if no one remembers him after his death, then I say that a baby that dies at birth is better off than that man. 4It is really senseless when a baby is born dead. That baby is quickly buried in a dark grave, without even a name. 5That baby never saw the sun. That baby never knew anything. But that baby finds more rest than the man that never enjoyed the things God gave him. 6That man might live 2,000 years. But if he does not enjoy life, then the baby that was born dead has found the easiest way to the same end.* 7A man works and works. Why? To feed himself. But he is never satisfied. 8In this way, a wise man is no better than a foolish person. It is better to be a poor man that knows how to accept life as it is. 9It is better to be happy with the things you have than to always want more and more. Always wanting more and more is useless. It is like trying to catch the wind.* 10–11A man is only what he was created to be—a man. And it is useless to argue about it. A man can’t argue with God about this. Why? Because God is more powerful than man. And a long argument will not change that fact. 12Who knows what is best for a person during his short life on earth? His life passes like a shadow. No one can tell him what will happen later.

then the baby ...the same end Or, “Isn’t it true that all go to the same place.” It is better ... catch the wind Or, “Having what you can see is better than chasing after the things you want. This is also like trying to catch the wind.”

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