Ecclesiastes 3:19
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless.

New Living Translation
For people and animals share the same fate--both breathe and both must die. So people have no real advantage over the animals. How meaningless!

English Standard Version
For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity.

New American Standard Bible
For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity.

King James Bible
For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
For the fate of people and the fate of animals is the same. As one dies, so dies the other; they all have the same breath. People have no advantage over animals since everything is futile.

International Standard Version
For what happens to people also happens to animals—a single event happens to them: just as someone dies, so does the other. In fact, they all breathe the same way, so that a human being has no superiority over an animal. All of this is pointless.

NET Bible
For the fate of humans and the fate of animals are the same: As one dies, so dies the other; both have the same breath. There is no advantage for humans over animals, for both are fleeting.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Humans and animals have the same destiny. One dies just like the other. All of them have the same breath [of life]. Humans have no advantage over animals. All [of life] is pointless.

Jubilee Bible 2000
For that which befalls the sons of men befalls beasts; even one thing befalls them: as the one dies, so dies the other; and they all have one breath; so that a man has no more breath than a beast: for all is vanity.

King James 2000 Bible
For that which befalls the sons of men befalls beasts; the same thing befalls them: as the one dies, so dies the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man has no advantage over a beast: for all is vanity.

American King James Version
For that which befalls the sons of men befalls beasts; even one thing befalls them: as the one dies, so dies the other; yes, they have all one breath; so that a man has no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

American Standard Version
For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; and man hath no preeminence above the beasts: for all is vanity.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Therefore the death of man, and of beasts is one, and the condition of them both is equal: as man dieth, so they also die: all things breathe alike, and man hath nothing more than beast: all things are subject to vanity.

Darby Bible Translation
For what befalleth the children of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other, and they have all one breath; and man hath no pre-eminence above the beast: for all is vanity.

English Revised Version
For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; and man hath no preeminence above the beasts: for all is vanity.

Webster's Bible Translation
For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yes, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

World English Bible
For that which happens to the sons of men happens to animals. Even one thing happens to them. As the one dies, so the other dies. Yes, they have all one breath; and man has no advantage over the animals: for all is vanity.

Young's Literal Translation
For an event is to the sons of man, and an event is to the beasts, even one event is to them; as the death of this, so is the death of that; and one spirit is to all, and the advantage of man above the beast is nothing, for the whole is vanity.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

3:16-22 Without the fear of the Lord, man is but vanity; set that aside, and judges will not use their power well. And there is another Judge that stands before the door. With God there is a time for the redressing of grievances, though as yet we see it not. Solomon seems to express his wish that men might perceive, that by choosing this world as their portion, they brought themselves to a level with the beasts, without being free, as they are, from present vexations and a future account. Both return to the dust from whence they were taken. What little reason have we to be proud of our bodies, or bodily accomplishments! But as none can fully comprehend, so few consider properly, the difference between the rational soul of man, and the spirit or life of the beast. The spirit of man goes upward, to be judged, and is then fixed in an unchangeable state of happiness or misery. It is as certain that the spirit of the beast goes downward to the earth; it perishes at death. Surely their case is lamentable, the height of whose hopes and wishes is, that they may die like beasts. Let our inquiry be, how an eternity of existence may be to us an eternity of enjoyment? To answer this, is the grand design of revelation. Jesus is revealed as the Son of God, and the Hope of sinners.

Pulpit Commentary

Verses 19-21 are best regarded as a parenthesis explanatory of vers. 16-18, elucidating man's impotence in the presence of the anomalies of life. The conclusion in ver. 22 is connected with vers. 16-18. We must acknowledge that there are disorders in the world which we cannot remedy, and which God allows in order to demonstrate our powerlessness; therefore the wisest course is to make the best of present cir-circumstances. Verse 19. - For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; literally, chance are the sons of men, and chance are beasts (see on Ecclesiastes 2:14); Septuagint, "Yea, and to them cometh the event (συνάντηημα) of the sons of men, and the event of the beast." Koheleth explains in what respect man is on a level with the brute creation. Neither are able to rise superior to the law that controls their natural life. So Solon says to Croesus (Herod., 1:32), Πᾶν ἐστι ἄνθρωπος συμφορή, "Man is naught but chance;" and Artabanns reminds Xerxes that chances rule men, not men chances (ibid., 7:49). Even one thing befalleth them. A third time is the ominous word repeated, "One chance is to both of them." Free-thinkers perverted this dictum into the materialistic language quoted in the Book of Wisdom (2. 2): "We are born at haphazard, by chance (αὐτοσχεδιως´); etc. But Koheleth's contention is, not that there is no law or order in what happens to man, but that neither man nor beast can dispose events at their own will and pleasure; they are conditioned by a force superior to them, which dominates their actions, sufferings, and circumstances of life. As the one dieth, so dieth the other. In the matter of succumbing to the law of death man has no superiority over other creatures. This is an inference drawn from common observation of exterior facts, and touches not any higher question (comp. Ecclesiastes 2:14, 15; Ecclesiastes 9:2, 3). Something similar is found in Psalm 49:20, "Man that is in honor, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish." Yea, they have all one breath (ruach). This is the word used in ver. 23 for the vital principle, "the breath of life," as it is called in Genesis 6:17, where the same word is found. In the earlier record (Genesis 2:7) the term is nishma. Life in all animals is regarded as the gift of God. Says the psalmist, "Thou sendest forth thy spirit (ruach), they are created" (Psalm 104:30). This lower principle presents the same phenomena in men and in brutes. Man hath no pre-eminence above a beast; i.e. in regard to suffering and death. This is not bare materialism, or a gloomy deduction from Greek teaching, but must be explained from the writer's standpoint, which is to emphasize the impotence of man to effect his own happiness. Taking only a limited and phenomenal view of man's circumstances and destiny, he speaks a general truth which all must acknowledge. Septuagint, "And what hath the man more than the beast? Nothing." For all is vanity. The distinction between man and beast is annulled by death; the former's boasted superiority, his power of conceiving and planning, his greatness, skill, strength. cunning, all come under the category of vanity, as they cannot ward off the inevitable blow.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts,.... Aben Ezra says this verse is according to the thoughts of the children of men that are not wise; but rather the wise man says what he does according to his own thoughts, and proceeds to prove the likeness and equality of men and beasts;

even one thing befalleth them; the same events belong to one as to another; the same diseases and disasters, calamities and distresses: Noah's flood carried away one as well as another; they both perished in it; several of the plagues of Egypt were inflicted on both; and both are beholden to God for their health, preservation, and safety; see Genesis 7:21;

as the one dieth, so dieth the other; the Targum compares a wicked man and an unclean beast together, in the former clause; and paraphrases this after this manner,

"as an unclean beast dies, so dies he who is not turned to repentance before his death:''

he dies unclean in his sins, stupid, senseless; no more thoughtful of his future state, and of what will become of his precious and immortal soul, than a beast that has none; see Psalm 49:14; perhaps unjust judges, persecuting tyrants, may particularly be regarded: who, though princes, shall not only die like men, but even like beasts, Psalm 82:7;

yea, they have all one breath; the same vital breath, or breath of life, which is in the nostrils of the one as of the other; they breathe and draw in the same air, and have the same animal and vegetative life, and equally liable to lose it, Genesis 2:7;

so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: he has reason and speech, which a beast has not; which gives him a preference to them, did he make a right use of them; but, as an animal, he has no preeminence, being liable to the same accidents, and to death itself: the Targum excepts the house of the grave, man being usually buried when he dies, but a beast is not: yea, in some things a beast has the preeminence of a man; at least some have, in strength, agility, quickness of the senses, &c.

for all is vanity; all the gratifications of the senses; all riches, honours, pleasures, power, and authority, especially when abused.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

19. Literally, "For the sons of men (Adam) are a mere chance, as also the beast is a mere chance." These words can only be the sentiments of the skeptical oppressors. God's delay in judgment gives scope for the "manifestation" of their infidelity (Ec 8:11; Ps 55:19; 2Pe 3:3,4). They are "brute beasts," morally (Ec 3:18; Jude 10); and they end by maintaining that man, physically, has no pre-eminence over the beast, both alike being "fortuities." Probably this was the language of Solomon himself in his apostasy. He answers it in Ec 3:21. If Ec 3:19, 20 be his words, they express only that as regards liability to death, excluding the future judgment, as the skeptic oppressors do, man is on a level with the beast. Life is "vanity," if regarded independently of religion. But Ec 3:21 points out the vast difference between them in respect to the future destiny; also (Ec 3:17) beasts have no "judgment" to come.

breath—vitality.

Ecclesiastes 3:19 Additional Commentaries
Context
From Dust to Dust
18I said to myself concerning the sons of men, "God has surely tested them in order for them to see that they are but beasts." 19For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. 20All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust.…
Cross References
Numbers 16:29
If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the LORD has not sent me.

Psalm 49:12
People, despite their wealth, do not endure; they are like the beasts that perish.

Psalm 49:20
People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish.

Ecclesiastes 2:14
The wise have eyes in their heads, while the fool walks in the darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both.

Ecclesiastes 7:2
It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.

Ecclesiastes 9:2
All share a common destiny--the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. As it is with the good, so with the sinful; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them.

Ecclesiastes 9:12
Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.
Treasury of Scripture

For that which befalls the sons of men befalls beasts; even one thing befalls them: as the one dies, so dies the other; yes, they have all one breath; so that a man has no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

that which

Ecclesiastes 2:16 For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever…

Psalm 49:12,20 Nevertheless man being in honor stays not: he is like the beasts that perish…

Psalm 92:6,7 A brutish man knows not; neither does a fool understand this…

as the

2 Samuel 14:14 For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which …

Job 14:10-12 But man dies, and wastes away: yes, man gives up the ghost, and where is he…

Psalm 104:29 You hide your face, they are troubled: you take away their breath, …

for

Ecclesiastes 2:20-23 Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labor …

Psalm 39:5,6 Behold, you have made my days as an handbreadth; and my age is as …

Psalm 89:47,48 Remember how short my time is: why have you made all men in vain…

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Alphabetical: advantage All and animal animals As awaits beast beasts both breath dies Everything fate For has have indeed is like man Man's meaningless men no of one other over same so sons that the them there they vanity

OT Poetry: Ecclesiastes 3:19 For that which happens to the sons (Ecclesiast. Ec Ecc Eccles.) Christian Bible Study Resources, Dictionary, Concordance and Search Tools

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