Ecclesiastes 4:4
Parallel Verses
New International Version
And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person's envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

New Living Translation
Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless--like chasing the wind.

English Standard Version
Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

New American Standard Bible
I 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.

King James Bible
Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
I saw that all labor and all skillful work is due to a man's jealousy of his friend. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.

International Standard Version
Then I examined all sorts of work, including all kinds of excellent achievements that create envy in others. This also is pointless and chasing after the wind.

NET Bible
Then I considered all the skillful work that is done: Surely it is nothing more than competition between one person and another. This also is profitless--like chasing the wind.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Then I saw that all hard work and skillful effort come from rivalry. Even this is pointless. [It's like] trying to catch the wind.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Again, I considered all travail and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.

King James 2000 Bible
Again, I considered all toil, and every skillful work, that for this a man is envied by his neighbor. This is also vanity and grasping after the wind.

American King James Version
Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.

American Standard Version
Then I saw all labor and every skilful work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Again I considered all the labours of men, and I remarked that their industries are exposed to the envy of their neighhour: so in this also there is vanity, and fruitless care.

Darby Bible Translation
And I saw all labour, and all success of work, that it is man's jealousy of his neighbour. This also is vanity and pursuit of the wind.

English Revised Version
Then I saw all labour and every skilful work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Webster's Bible Translation
Again, I considered all labor, and every right work, that for this a man is envied by his neighbor. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.

World English Bible
Then I saw all the labor and achievement that is the envy of a man's neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Young's Literal Translation
And I have seen all the labour, and all the benefit of the work, because for it a man is the envy of his neighbour. Even this is vanity and vexation of spirit.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

4:4-6 Solomon notices the sources of trouble peculiar to well-doers, and includes all who labour with diligence, and whose efforts are crowned with success. They often become great and prosperous, but this excites envy and opposition. Others, seeing the vexations of an active course, foolishly expect more satisfaction in sloth and idleness. But idleness is a sin that is its own punishment. Let us by honest industry lay hold on the handful, that we may not want necessaries, but not grasp at both hands full, which would only create vexation of spirit. Moderate pains and gains do best.

Pulpit Commentary

Verses 4-6. - Secondly, success meets with envy, and produces no lasting good to the worker; yet, however unsatisfactory the result, man must continue to labor, as idleness is ruin. Verse 4. - Again, I considered all travail, and every right work. The word rendered "right" is kishron (see on Ecclesiastes 2:21), and means rather "dexterity," "success." Kohe-leth says that he reflected upon the industry that men exhibit, and the skill and dexterity with which they ply their incessant toil. There is no reference to moral rectitude in the reflection, and the allusion to the ostracism of Aristides for being called "Just" overshoots the mark (see Wordsworth, in loc.). Septuagint, σύμπασαν ἀνρίαν τοῦ ποιήματος, "all manliness of his work." That for this a man is envied of his neighbor. Kinah may mean either "object of envy" or "envious rivalry;" i.e. the clause may be translated as above, or, as in the Revised Version margin, "it cometh of a man's rivalry with his neighbor." The Septuagint is ambiguous, Ὅτι αὐτὸ ζῆλος ἀνδρὸς ἀπὸ τοῦ ἑταίρου αὐτοῦ, "That this is a man's envy from his comrade;" Vulgate, Industrias animadverti patere invidiae proximi, "Lay open to a neighbor's envy." In the first case the thought is that unusual skill and success expose a man to envy and ill will, which rob labor of all enjoyment. In the second case the writer says that this superiority and dexterity arise from a mean motive, an envious desire to outstrip a neighbor, and, based on such low ground, can lead to nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit, a striving after wind. The former explanation seems more in accordance with Koheleth's gloomy view. Success itself is no guarantee of happiness; the malice and ill feeling which it invariably occasions are necessarily a source of pain and distress.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Again I considered all travail, and every right work,.... The pains that men take to do right works. Some apply themselves, with great diligence and industry, to the study of the liberal arts and sciences; and to attain the knowledge of languages; and to writing books, for the improvement of those things, and the good of mankind: and others employ themselves in mechanic arts, and excel in them, and bring their works to great perfection and accuracy; when they might expect to be praised and commended, and have thanks given them by men. But instead thereof, so it is,

that for this a man is envied of his neighbour; who will be sure to find fault with what he has done, speak contemptibly of him and his work, and traduce him among men. This is also true of moral works; which are right, when done from a right principle, from love to God, in faith, and with a view to the glory of God; and which when done, and ever so well done, draw upon a man the envy of the wicked, as may be observed in the case of Cain and Abel, 1 John 3:12; though some understand this, not passively, of the envy which is brought upon a man, and he endures, for the sake of the good he excels in; but actively, of the spirit of emulation with which he does it; though the work he does, as to the matter of it, is right; yet the manner of doing it, and the spirit with which he does it, are wrong; he does not do it with any good affection to the thing itself, nor with any good design, only from a spirit of emulation to outdo his neighbour: so the Targum paraphrases it,

"this is the emulation that a man emulates his neighbour, to do as he; if he emulates him to do good, the heavenly Word does good to him; but if he emulates him to do evil, the heavenly Word does evil to him;''

and to this sense Jarchi; compare with this, Philippians 1:15.

This is also vanity, and vexation of spirit; whether it be understood in the one sense or the other; how dissatisfying and vexatious is it, when a man has taken a great deal of pains to do right works for public good, instead of having thanks and praise, is reproached and calumniated for it? and if he does a right thing, and yet has not right ends and views in it, it stands for nothing; it has only the appearance of good, but is not truly so, and yields no solid peace and comfort.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

4. right—rather, "prosperous" (see on [658]Ec 2:21). Prosperity, which men so much covet, is the very source of provoking oppression (Ec 4:1) and "envy," so far is it from constituting the chief good.

Ecclesiastes 4:4 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Evils of Oppression
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. 5The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh.…
Cross References
Ecclesiastes 1:14
I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 1:17
Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:21
For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune.
Treasury of Scripture

Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.

every or all the rightness of work, that this is the envy of a man from his neighbour

Genesis 4:4-8 And Abel, he also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the …

Genesis 37:2-11 These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years …

1 Samuel 18:8,9,14-16,29,30 And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, …

Proverbs 27:4 Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?

Matthew 27:18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.

Acts 7:9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but …

James 4:5 Do you think that the scripture said in vain, The spirit that dwells …

1 John 3:12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And …

this is

Ecclesiastes 3:16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness …

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

Ecclesiastes 2:21,26 For there is a man whose labor is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity…

Ecclesiastes 6:9,11 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: …

Genesis 37:4,11 And when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all …

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