Ecclesiastes 1:15
Parallel Verses
New International Version
What is crooked cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted.

New Living Translation
What is wrong cannot be made right. What is missing cannot be recovered.

English Standard Version
What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.

New American Standard Bible
What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted.

King James Bible
That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
What is crooked cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted.

International Standard Version
What is crooked cannot be made straight; what is not there cannot be counted.

NET Bible
What is bent cannot be straightened, and what is missing cannot be supplied.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
No one can straighten what is bent. No one can count what is not there.

Jubilee Bible 2000
That which is crooked cannot be made straight, and that which is lacking cannot be numbered.

King James 2000 Bible
That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is lacking cannot be numbered.

American King James Version
That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

American Standard Version
That which is crooked cannot be made straight; and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

Douay-Rheims Bible
The perverse are hard to be corrected, and the number of fools is infinite.

Darby Bible Translation
That which is crooked cannot be made straight; and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

English Revised Version
That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

Webster's Bible Translation
That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

World English Bible
That which is crooked can't be made straight; and that which is lacking can't be counted.

Young's Literal Translation
A crooked thing one is not able to make straight, and a lacking thing is not able to be numbered.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

1:12-18 Solomon tried all things, and found them vanity. He found his searches after knowledge weariness, not only to the flesh, but to the mind. The more he saw of the works done under the sun, the more he saw their vanity; and the sight often vexed his spirit. He could neither gain that satisfaction to himself, nor do that good to others, which he expected. Even the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom discovered man's wickedness and misery; so that the more he knew, the more he saw cause to lament and mourn. Let us learn to hate and fear sin, the cause of all this vanity and misery; to value Christ; to seek rest in the knowledge, love, and service of the Saviour.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 15. - That which is crooked cannot be made straight. This is intended as a confirmation of ver. 14. By the utmost exercise of his powers and faculties man cannot change the course of events; he is constantly met by anomalies which he can neither explain nor rectify (comp. Ecclesiastes 7:13). The above is probably a proverbial saying. Knobel quotes Suidas: Χύλον ἀγκύλον οὐδέποτ ὀρθόν. The Vulgate takes the whole maxim as applying only to morals: "Perverse men are hardly corrected, and the number of tools is infinite." So too the Syriac and Targum. The Septuagint rightly as the Authorized Version. The writer is not referring merely to man's sins and delinquencies, but to the perplexities in which he finds himself involved, and extrication from which is impracticable. That which is wanting cannot be numbered. The word חֶסְדון, "loss, defect," is ἅπαξ λεγόμενον in the Old Testament. We cannot reckon where there is nothing to count; no skill in arithmetic will avail to make up for a substantial deficit. So nothing man can do is able to remedy the anomalies by which he is surrounded, or to supply the defects which are pressed upon his notice.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

That which is crooked cannot be made straight,.... By all the art and cunning, wisdom and knowledge of man, that he can attain unto; whatever he, in the vanity of his mind, may find fault with in the works of God, either of nature of providence, and which he may call crooked, it is not in his power to make them straight, or to mend them; see Ecclesiastes 7:13. There is something which, through sin, is crooked, in the hearts, in the nature, in the principles, ways and works, of men; which can never be made straight, corrected or amended, by all the natural wisdom and knowledge of men, which shows the insufficiency of it: the wisest philosophers among men, with all their parade of wit and learning, could never effect anything of this kind; this only is done by the Spirit and grace of God; see Isaiah 42:16;

and that which is wanting cannot be numbered; the deficiencies in human science are so many, that they cannot be reckoned up; and the defects in human nature can never be supplied or made up by natural knowledge and wisdom; and which are so numerous, as that they cannot be understood and counted. The Targum is,

"a man whose ways are perverse in this world, and dies in them, and does not return by repentance, he has no power of correcting himself after his death; and a man that fails from the law and the precepts in his life, after his death hath no power to be numbered with the righteous in paradise:''

to the same sense Jarchi's note and the Midrash.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

15. Investigation (Ec 1:13) into human ways is vain labor, for they are hopelessly "crooked" and "cannot be made straight" by it (Ec 7:13). God, the chief good, alone can do this (Isa 40:4; 45:2).

wanting—(Da 5:27).

numbered—so as to make a complete number; so equivalent to "supplied" [Maurer]. Or, rather, man's state is utterly wanting; and that which is wholly defective cannot be numbered or calculated. The investigator thinks he can draw up, in accurate numbers, statistics of man's wants; but these, including the defects in the investigator's labor, are not partial, but total.

Ecclesiastes 1:15 Additional Commentaries
Context
With Wisdom Comes Sorrow
14I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. 15What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted. 16I said to myself, "Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge."…
Cross References
Ecclesiastes 7:13
Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked?

Ecclesiastes 7:25
So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things and to understand the stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly.
Treasury of Scripture

That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

crooked

Ecclesiastes 3:14 I know that, whatever God does, it shall be for ever: nothing can …

Ecclesiastes 7:12,13 For wisdom is a defense, and money is a defense: but the excellency …

Job 11:6 And that he would show you the secrets of wisdom…

Job 34:29 When he gives quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hides …

Isaiah 40:4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall …

Lamentations 3:37 Who is he that said, and it comes to pass, when the Lord commands it not?

Daniel 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and …

Matthew 6:27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?

wanting or a defect

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