Ecclesiastes 4:3
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
But better than both is the one who has never been born, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun.

New Living Translation
But most fortunate of all are those who are not yet born. For they have not seen all the evil that is done under the sun.

English Standard Version
But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.

New American Standard Bible
But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.

King James Bible
Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
But better than either of them is the one who has not yet existed, who has not seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.

International Standard Version
Better than both of them is someone who has not yet been born, because he hasn't experienced evil on earth.

NET Bible
But better than both is the one who has not been born and has not seen the evil things that are done on earth.

New Heart English Bible
Yes, better than them both is him who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
But the person who hasn't been born yet is better off than both of them. He hasn't seen the evil that is done under the sun.

JPS Tanakh 1917
but better than they both is he that hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

New American Standard 1977
But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.

Jubilee Bible 2000
And I thought that better is he than both of them who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil works that are done under the sun.

King James 2000 Bible
Yea, better is he than both, who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

American King James Version
Yes, better is he than both they, which has not yet been, who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

American Standard Version
yea, better than them both did I esteem him that hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And I judged him happier than them both, that is not yet born, nor hath seen the evils that are done under the sun.

Darby Bible Translation
and more fortunate than both is he who hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

English Revised Version
yea, better than them both did I esteem him which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

Webster's Bible Translation
Yes, better is he than both they, who hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

World English Bible
Yes, better than them both is him who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

Young's Literal Translation
And better than both of them is he who hath not yet been, in that he hath not seen the evil work that hath been done under the sun.
Study Bible
The Evils of Oppression
2So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. 3But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun. 4I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind.…
Cross References
Luke 23:29
Look, the days are coming when people will say, 'Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore, and breasts that never nursed.'

Job 3:11
"Why did I not die at birth, Come forth from the womb and expire?

Ecclesiastes 2:17
So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after wind.

Ecclesiastes 6:3
If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, however many they be, but his soul is not satisfied with good things and he does not even have a proper burial, then I say, "Better the miscarriage than he,
Treasury of Scripture

Yes, better is he than both they, which has not yet been, who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

better

Ecclesiastes 6:3-5 If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that …

Job 3:10-16 Because it shut not up the doors of my mother's womb, nor hid sorrow …

Job 10:18,19 Why then have you brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had …

Jeremiah 20:17,18 Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have …

Matthew 24:19 And woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

Luke 23:29 For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed …

who

Ecclesiastes 1:14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, …

Ecclesiastes 2:17 Therefore I hated life; because the work that is worked under the …

Psalm 55:6-11 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly …

Jeremiah 9:2,3 Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; …

Verse 3. - Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been. Thus we have Job's passionate appeal (Job 3:11), "Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came forth," etc.? And in the Greek poets the sentiment of the text is re-echoed. Thus Theognis, 'Paroen.,' 425 -

Πάντων μὲν μὴ φῦναι ἐπιχθονίοισιν ἄριστον
Μηδ ἐσιδεῖν αὐγὰς ὀξέος ἠελίου
Φύντα δ ὅπως ὤκιστα πύλας Ἀι'´δαο περῆσαι
Καὶ κεῖσθαι πολλὴν γῆν ἐπαμησάμενον

"'Tis best for mortals never to be born,
Nor ever see the swift sun's burning rays;
Next best, when born, to pass the gates of death
Right speedily, and rest beneath the earth."
(Comp. Soph., '(Ed. Colossians,' 1225-1228.) Cicero, 'Tusc. Disp.,' 1:48, renders some lines from a lost play of Euripides to the same effect -

"Nam nos decebat, caetus celebrantes, domum
Lugere, ubi esset aliquis in lucern editus,
Humanae vitae varia reputantes mala;
At qui labores metre finisset graves,
Hunc omni amicos lauds et laetitia exsequi."
Herodotus (5. 4) relates how some of the Thracians had a custom of bemoaning a birth and rejoicing at a death. In our own Burial Service we thank God for delivering the departed "out of the miseries of this sinful world." Keble alludes to this barbarian custom in his poem on' The Third Sunday after Easter.' Speaking of a Christian mother's joy at a child's birth, he says -

"No need for her to weep
Like Thracian wives of yore,
Save when in rapture still and deep
Her thankful heart runs o'er.
They mourned to trust their treasure on the main,
Sure of the storm, unknowing of their guide:
Welcome to her the peril and the pain,
For well she knows the home where they may safely hide."
(See on Ecclesiastes 7:1; comp. Gray's ode 'On a Prospect of Eton College;' and for the classical notion concerning life and death, see Plato, 'Laches,' p. 195, 1), sqq.; 'Gorgias,' p. 512, A.) The Buddhist religion does not recommend suicide as an escape from the evils of life. It indeed regards man as master of his own life; but it considers suicide foolish, as it merely transfers a man's position, the thread of life having to be taken up again under less favorable circumstances. See 'A Buddhist Catechism,' by Subhadra Bhikshu (London: Redway, 1890). Who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun. He repeats the words, "under the sun," from ver. 1, in order to show that he is speaking of facts that came under his own regard - outward phenomena which any thoughtful observer might notice (so again ver. 7). Yea, better is he than both they which hath not yet been,.... That is, an unborn person; who is preferred both to the dead that have seen oppression, and to the living that are under it; see Job 3:10. This supposes a person to be that never was, a mere nonentity; and the judgment made is according to sense, and regards the dead purely as such, and so as free from evils and sorrows, without any respect to their future state and condition; for otherwise an unborn person is not happier than the dead that die in Christ, and live with him: and it can only be true of those that perish, of whom indeed it might be said, that it would have been better for them if they had never been born, according to those words of Christ, Matthew 26:24; and is opposed to the maxim of some philosophers, that a miserable being is better than none at all. The Jews, from this passage, endeavour to prove the pre-existence of human souls, and suppose that such an one is here meant, which, though created, was not yet sent into this world in a body, and so had never seen evil and sorrow; and this way some Christian writers have gone. It has been interpreted also of the Messiah, who in Solomon's time had not yet been a man, and never known sorrow, which he was to do, and has, and so more happy than the dead or living. But these are senses that will not bear; the first is best; and the design is to show the great unhappiness of mortals, that even a nonentity is preferred to them;

who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun? the evil works of oppressors, and the sorrows of the oppressed. 3. not seen—nor experienced.4:1-3 It grieved Solomon to see might prevail against right. Wherever we turn, we see melancholy proofs of the wickedness and misery of mankind, who try to create trouble to themselves and to each other. Being thus hardly used, men are tempted to hate and despise life. But a good man, though badly off while in this world, cannot have cause to wish he had never been born, since he is glorifying the Lord, even in the fires, and will be happy at last, for ever happy. Ungodly men have most cause to wish the continuance of life with all its vexations, as a far more miserable condition awaits them if they die in their sins. If human and worldly things were our chief good, not to exist would be preferable to life, considering the various oppressions here below.
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OT Poetry: Ecclesiastes 4:3 Yes better than them both is him (Ecclesiast. Ec Ecc Eccles.) Christian Bible Study Resources, Dictionary, Concordance and Search Tools
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