Ecclesiastes 4:8
Parallel Verses
New International Version
There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. "For whom am I toiling," he asked, "and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?" This too is meaningless-- a miserable business!

New Living Translation
This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, "Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?" It is all so meaningless and depressing.

English Standard Version
one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.

New American Standard Bible
There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, "And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?" This too is vanity and it is a grievous task.

King James Bible
There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
There is a person without a companion, without even a son or brother, and though there is no end to all his struggles, his eyes are still not content with riches. "So who am I struggling for," he asks, "and depriving myself from good?" This too is futile and a miserable task.

International Standard Version
Consider someone who is alone, having neither son nor brother. There is no end to all of his work, and he is never satisfied with wealth. "So for whom do I work," he asks, "and deprive myself of pleasure?" This, too, is pointless and a terrible tragedy.

NET Bible
A man who is all alone with no companion, he has no children nor siblings; yet there is no end to all his toil, and he is never satisfied with riches. He laments, "For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?" This also is futile and a burdensome task!

GOD'S WORD® Translation
There are people who are all alone. They have no children or other family members. So there is no end to all the hard work they have to do. Their eyes are never satisfied with riches. But [they never ask themselves] why they are working so hard and depriving themselves of good things. Even this is pointless and a terrible tragedy.

Jubilee Bible 2000
It is the man who is alone, without a successor, who has neither son nor brother; yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity and sore travail.

King James 2000 Bible
There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he has neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labor; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither says he, For whom do I labor, and deprive my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a heavy travail.

American King James Version
There is one alone, and there is not a second; yes, he has neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labor; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither said he, For whom do I labor, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yes, it is a sore travail.

American Standard Version
There is one that is alone, and he hath not a second; yea, he hath neither son nor brother; yet is there no end of all his labor, neither are his eyes satisfied with riches. For whom then,'saith he , do I labor, and deprive my soul of good? This also is vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.

Douay-Rheims Bible
There is but one, and he hath not a second, no child, no brother, and yet he ceaseth not to labour, neither are his eyes satisfied with riches, neither doth he reflect, saying: For whom do I labour, and defraud my soul of good things? in this also is vanity, and a grievous vexation.

Darby Bible Translation
There is one [alone] and without a second; also he hath neither son nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour, neither is his eye satisfied with riches, and [he saith not], For whom then am I labouring, and depriving my soul of good? This also is vanity and a grievous occupation.

English Revised Version
There is one that is alone, and he hath not a second; yea, he hath neither son nor brother; yet is there no end of all his labour, neither are his eyes satisfied with riches. For whom then, saith he, do I labour, and deprive my soul of good? This also is vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.

Webster's Bible Translation
There is one alone, and there is not a second; yes, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labor; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labor, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yes, it is a grievous labor.

World English Bible
There is one who is alone, and he has neither son nor brother. There is no end to all of his labor, neither are his eyes satisfied with wealth. "For whom then, do I labor, and deprive my soul of enjoyment?" This also is vanity. Yes, it is a miserable business.

Young's Literal Translation
There is one, and there is not a second; even son or brother he hath not, and there is no end to all his labour! His eye also is not satisfied with riches, and he saith not, 'For whom am I labouring and bereaving my soul of good?' This also is vanity, it is a sad travail.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

4:7,8 Frequently, the more men have, the more they would have; and on this they are so intent, that they get no enjoyment from what they have. Selfishness is the cause of this evil. A selfish man cares for nobody; there is none to take care of but himself, yet he will scarcely allow necessary rest to himself, and the people he employs. He never thinks he has enough. He has enough for his calling, for his family, but he has not enough for his eyes. Many are so set upon the world, that in pursuit of it they bereave themselves, not only of the favour of God and eternal life, but of the pleasures of this life. The distant relations or strangers who inherit such a man's wealth, never thank him. Covetousness gathers strength by time and habit; men tottering on the brink of the grave, grow more grasping and griping. Alas, and how often do we see men professing to be followers of Him, who, though he was rich, for our sakes became poor, anxiously scraping money together and holding it fast, excusing themselves by common-place talking about the necessity of care, and the danger of extravagance!

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 8. - There is one alone, and there is not a second; or, without a second - a solitary being, without partner, relation, or friend. Here, he says, is another instance of man's inability to secure his own happiness. Wealth indeed, is supposed to make friends, such as they are; but miserliness and greed separate a man from his fellows, make him suspicious of every one, and drive him to live alone, churlish and unhappy. Yea, he hath neither child nor brother; no one to share his wealth, or for whom to save and amass riches. To apply these words to Solomon himself, who had brothers, and one son, if not more, is manifestly inappropriate. They may possibly refer to some circumstance in the writer's own life; but of that we know nothing. Yet is there no sad of all his labor. In spite of this isolation he plies his weary task, and ceases not to hoard. Neither is his eye satisfied with riches; so that he is content with what he has (comp. Ecclesiastes 2:10; Proverbs 27:20). The insatiable thirst for gold, the dropsy of the mind, is a commonplace theme in classical writers. Thus Horace, 'Caxm.,' 3:16. 17 -

"Crescentem sequitur cura pecuniam, Majorumque fames." And Juvenal, 'Sat.,' 14:138 -

"Interea pleno quum turget sacculus ore,
Crescit amor nummi, quantum ipsa pecunia crevit."
Neither, saith he, For whom do I labor, and bereave my soul of good? The original is more dramatic than the Authorized Version or the Vulgate, Nec recogitat, dicens, Cui laboro, etc.? The writer suddenly puts himself in the place of the friendless miser, and exclaims, "And for whom do I labor," etc.? We see something similar in ver. 15 and Ecclesiastes 2:15. Here we cannot find any definite allusion to the writer's own circumstances. The clause is merely a lively personification expressive of strong sympathy with the situation described (comp. Ecclesiastes 2:18). Good may mean either riches, in which case the denial to the soul refers to the enjoyment which wealth might afford, or happiness and comfort. The Septuagint has ἀγαθωσύνης, "goodness," "kindness " - which gives quite a different and not so suitable an idea. Sore travail; a sad business, a woeful employment.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

There is one alone, and there is not a second,.... According to Aben Ezra, either no friend or companion, or no servant, or no wife, which last sense he prefers; no friend or companion he chooses, because friendship and fellowship lead to expenses; and no servant who would be chargeable to him; and no wife, which would be more expensive, and bring on a family of children; wherefore, to save charges, he chooses to have neither of these; for this is a covetous man who is here desert bed;

yea, he hath neither child nor brother; to inherit his substance, as the Targum adds; some worldly men, whose bellies are filled with hidden treasures, having enjoyed much, when they die, leave the rest of their substance to their babes; but the man here described has no children, nor any relations to leave his wealth unto;

yet is there no end of all his labour; when he has executed one scheme to get riches, he forms another; and having finished one work, he enters upon another; he rises early and sits up late, and works and toils night and day, as if he was not worth a dollar, and had a large and numerous family to provide for; or there is no end of what he labours for, or gets by his labour; there is no end of his treasures, Isaiah 2:7; he is immensely rich, so Aben Ezra interprets it;

neither is his eye satisfied with riches: with seeing his bags of gold and silver, though he takes a great deal of sure in looking upon them too, without making use of them; yet he is not satisfied with what he has, he wants more, he enlarges his desire as hell, and like the grave never has enough; see Ecclesiastes 5:10;

neither saith he, for whom do I labour? having neither wife nor child, nor relation, nor friend, and yet so wretchedly stupid and thoughtless as never once to put this question to himself, Who am I toiling for? I am heaping up riches, and know not who shall gather them; it is a vexation to a worldly man to leave his substance behind him, and even to a man that has an heir to inherit it, when he knows not whether he will be a wise man or a fool; but for a man that has no heir at all, and yet to be toiling and labouring for the world, is gross stupidity, downright madness, and especially when he deprives himself of the comfort of what he is possessed of;

and bereave my soul of good? instead of richly enjoying what is given him, he withholds it from himself, starves his back and belly, lives in pinching want amidst the greatest plenty; has not power to eat of what he has, and his soul desireth; see Ecclesiastes 6:2.

This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail; a very vain and wicked thing; "an evil business", as it may be rendered; a very great sin and folly indeed; it is thought by some divines to be the worst species of covetousness, most cruel and unnatural.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

8. not a second—no partner.

child—"son or brother," put for any heir (De 25:5-10).

eye—(Ec 1:8). The miser would not be able to give an account of his infatuation.

Ecclesiastes 4:8 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Evils of Oppression
7Then I looked again at vanity under the sun. 8There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, "And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?" This too is vanity and it is a grievous task. 9Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.…
Cross References
Proverbs 27:20
Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes.

Ecclesiastes 1:8
All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.

Ecclesiastes 1:13
I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind!

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.

Ecclesiastes 4:7
Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:

Ecclesiastes 4:9
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:

Ecclesiastes 5:10
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.
Treasury of Scripture

There is one alone, and there is not a second; yes, he has neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labor; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither said he, For whom do I labor, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yes, it is a sore travail.

one

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor…

Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; …

Isaiah 56:3-5 Neither let the son of the stranger, that has joined himself to the …

he hath

Genesis 15:2,3 And Abram said, LORD God, what will you give me, seeing I go childless, …

no

Isaiah 5:8 Woe to them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till …

is his

Ecclesiastes 1:8 All things are full of labor; man cannot utter it: the eye is not …

Ecclesiastes 5:10 He that loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that …

Proverbs 27:20 Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.

Habakkuk 2:5,9 Yes also, because he transgresses by wine, he is a proud man, neither …

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust …

for

Psalm 39:6 Surely every man walks in a vain show: surely they are disquieted …

Isaiah 44:19,20 And none considers in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding …

Luke 12:20 But God said to him, You fool, this night your soul shall be required …

it is

Ecclesiastes 1:13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all …

Ecclesiastes 2:23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yes, his heart …

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

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

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Alphabetical: a all alone am and asked brother business certain content dependent depriving end enjoyment eyes For grievous had having he his I Indeed is it labor laboring man meaningless miserable myself neither never no nor not of pleasure riches satisfied son task There This to toil toiling too vanity was wealth were whom why with without yet

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