Ecclesiastes 1:3
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?

New Living Translation
What do people get for all their hard work under the sun?

English Standard Version
What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?

New American Standard Bible
What advantage does man have in all his work Which he does under the sun?

King James Bible
What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

Holman Christian Standard Bible
What does a man gain for all his efforts that he labors at under the sun?

International Standard Version
What does a man gain from all of the work that he undertakes on earth?

NET Bible
What benefit do people get from all the effort which they expend on earth?

New Heart English Bible
What does man gain from all his labor in which he labors under the sun?

GOD'S WORD® Translation
What do people gain from all their hard work under the sun?

JPS Tanakh 1917
What profit hath man of all his labour Wherein he laboureth under the sun?

New American Standard 1977
What advantage does man have in all his work
            Which he does under the sun?

Jubilee Bible 2000
What profit does a man have of all his labour which he takes under the sun?

King James 2000 Bible
What profit has a man of all his labor which he takes under the sun?

American King James Version
What profit has a man of all his labor which he takes under the sun?

American Standard Version
What profit hath man of all his labor wherein he laboreth under the sun?

Douay-Rheims Bible
What hath a man more of all his labour, that he taketh under the sun?

Darby Bible Translation
What profit hath man of all his labour wherewith he laboureth under the sun?

English Revised Version
What profit hath man of all his labour wherein he laboureth under the sun?

Webster's Bible Translation
What profit hath a man of all his labor, which he taketh under the sun?

World English Bible
What does man gain from all his labor in which he labors under the sun?

Young's Literal Translation
What advantage is to man by all his labour that he laboureth at under the sun?
Study Bible
Preceding Generations Forgotten
2"Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher, "Vanity of vanities! All is vanity." 3What advantage does man have in all his work Which he does under the sun? 4A generation goes and a generation comes, But the earth remains forever.…
Cross References
1 Corinthians 16:16
to submit to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer.

Ecclesiastes 2:11
Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:18
Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me.

Ecclesiastes 2:22
For what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 3:9
What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils?

Ecclesiastes 5:16
This also is a grievous evil-- exactly as a man is born, thus will he die. So what is the advantage to him who toils for the wind?
Treasury of Scripture

What profit has a man of all his labor which he takes under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 2:22 For what has man of all his labor, and of the vexation of his heart, …

Ecclesiastes 3:9 What profit has he that works in that wherein he labors?

Ecclesiastes 5:16 And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall …

Proverbs 23:4,5 Labor not to be rich: cease from your own wisdom…

Isaiah 55:2 Why do you spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor …

Habakkuk 2:13,18 Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts that the people shall labor …

Matthew 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and …

Mark 8:36,37 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, …

John 6:27 Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that meat which endures …

under

Ecclesiastes 2:11,19 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had worked, and on the …

Ecclesiastes 4:3,7 Yes, better is he than both they, which has not yet been, who has …

Ecclesiastes 5:18 Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat …

Ecclesiastes 6:12 For who knows what is good for man in this life, all the days of …

Ecclesiastes 7:11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to …

Ecclesiastes 8:15-17 Then I commended mirth, because a man has no better thing under the …

Ecclesiastes 9:3,6,13 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that …

(3-11) Man is perpetually toiling, yet of all his toil there remains no abiding result. The natural world exhibits a spectacle of unceasing activity, with no real progress. The sun, the winds, the waters, are all in motion, yet they do but run a round, and nothing comes of it.

(3) What profit.--The Hebrew word occurs ten times in this book (Ecclesiastes 2:11; Ecclesiastes 2:13; Ecclesiastes 3:9; Ecclesiastes 5:9; Ecclesiastes 5:16; Ecclesiastes 7:12; Ecclesiastes 10:10-11) and nowhere else in the Old Testament, but is common in post-Biblical Hebrew. The oft-recurring phrase "under the sun" is a peculiarity of this book. In other books we have "under heaven."

Verse 3. - What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun? Here begins the elucidation of the fruitlessness of man's ceaseless activity. The word rendered "profit" (yithron) is found only in this book, where it occurs frequently. It means "that which remains over, advantage," περισσεία, as the LXX. translates it. As the verb and the substantive are cognate in the following words, they are better rendered, in all his labor wherein he laboreth. So Euripides ('Androm,' 134) has, Τί μόχον μοχθεῖς, and ('And. Fragm.,' 7:4), Τοῖς μοχθοῦσι μόχθους εὐτυχῶς συνεκπόνει. Man is Adam, the natural man, unenlightened by the grace of God. Under the sun is an expression peculiar to this book (comp. vers. 9, 14; Ecclesiastes 2:11, 17, etc.), but is not intended to contrast this present with a future life; it merely refers to what we call sublunary matters. The phrase is often tact with in the Greek poets. Eurip., 'Alcest.,' 151 -

Γυνή τ ἀρίστη τῶν ὑφ ἡλίῳ μακρῷ
"By far the best of all beneath the sun." Homer, 'Iliad,' 4:44 -

Αι{ γὰρ ὑπ ἠελίῳ τε καὶ οὐρανῷ ἀστερόεντι
Ναιετάουσι πόληες ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων.
"Of all the cities occupied by man
Beneath the sun and starry cope of heaven."


(Cowper.) Theognis, 'Parcem.,' 167 -

Ὄλβιος οὐδεὶς
Ἀνθρώπων ὁπόσους ἠέλιος καθορᾷ
"No mortal man
On whom the sun looks down is wholly blest."
In an analogous sense we find in other passages of Scripture the terms "under heaven" (ver. 13; Ecclesiastes 2:3; Exodus 17:14; Luke 17:24) and "upon the earth" (Ecclesiastes 8:14, 16; Genesis 8:17). The interrogative form of the verse conveys a strong negative (comp. Ecclesiastes 6:8), like the Lord's word in Matthew 16:26, "What shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?" The epilogue (Ecclesiastes 12:13) furnishes a reply to the desponding inquiry. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? This is a general proof of the vanity of all things, since there is no profit arises to a man of all his labour; for, though it is put by way of question, it carries in it a strong negative. All things a man enjoys he gets by labour; for man, through sin, is doomed and born unto it, Job 5:7; he gets his bread by the sweat of his brow, which is a part of the curse for sin; and the wealth and riches got by a diligent hand, with a divine blessing, are got by labour; and so all knowledge of natural and civil things is acquired through much labour and weariness of the flesh; and these are things a man labours for "under the sun", which measures out the time of his labour: when the sun riseth, man goeth forth to his labour; and, by the light and comfortable warmth of it, he performs his work with more exactness and cheerfulness; in some climates, and in some seasons, its heat, especially at noon, makes labour burdensome, which is called, bearing "the heat and burden of the day", Matthew 20:12; and, when it sets, it closes the time of service and labour, and therefore the servant earnestly desires the evening shadow, Job 7:2. But now, of what profit and advantage is all this labour man takes under the sun, towards his happiness in the world above the sun? that glory and felicity, which lies in super celestial places in Christ Jesus? none at all. Or, "what remains of all his labour?" (p) as it may be rendered; that is, after death: so the Targum,

"what is there remains to a man after he is dead, of all his labour which he laboured under the sun in this world?''

nothing at all. He goes naked out of the world as he came into it; he can carry nothing away with him of all his wealth and substance he has acquired; nor any of his worldly glory, and grandeur, and titles of honour; these all die with him, his glory does not descend after him; wherefore it is a clear case that all these things are vanity of vanities; see Job 1:21. And, indeed, works of righteousness done by men, and trusted in, and by which they labour to establish a justifying righteousness, are of no profit and advantage to them in the business of justification and salvation; indeed, when these are done from right principles, and with right views, the labour in them shall not be in vain; God will not forget it; it shall have a reward of grace, though not of debt.

(p) "quid habet amplius homo?" V. L. "quid residui?" Vatablus, Piscator, Mercerus, Gejerus, Rambachius; "quantum enim homini reliquum est, post omnem saum laborem?" Tigurine version. 3. What profit … labour—that is, "What profit" as to the chief good (Mt 16:26). Labor is profitable in its proper place (Ge 2:15; 3:19; Pr 14:23).

under the sun—that is, in this life, as opposed to the future world. The phrase often recurs, but only in Ecclesiastes.1:1-3 Much is to be learned by comparing one part of Scripture with another. We here behold Solomon returning from the broken and empty cisterns of the world, to the Fountain of living water; recording his own folly and shame, the bitterness of his disappointment, and the lessons he had learned. Those that have taken warning to turn and live, should warn others not to go on and die. He does not merely say all things are vain, but that they are vanity. VANITY OF VANITIES, ALL IS VANITY. This is the text of the preacher's sermon, of which in this book he never loses sight. If this world, in its present state, were all, it would not be worth living for; and the wealth and pleasure of this world, if we had ever so much, are not enough to make us happy. What profit has a man of all his labour? All he gets by it will not supply the wants of the soul, nor satisfy its desires; will not atone for the sins of the soul, nor hinder the loss of it: what profit will the wealth of the world be to the soul in death, in judgment, or in the everlasting state?
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