Ecclesiastes 5:12
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep.

New Living Translation
People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night's sleep.

English Standard Version
Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

New American Standard Bible
The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.

King James Bible
The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
The sleep of the worker is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of the rich permits him no sleep.

International Standard Version
Sweet is the sleep of a working man, whether he eats a little or a lot, but the excess wealth of the rich will not allow him to rest.

NET Bible
The sleep of the laborer is pleasant--whether he eats little or much--but the wealth of the rich will not allow him to sleep.

New Heart English Bible
The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not allow him to sleep.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
The sleep of working people is sweet, whether they eat a little or a lot. But the full stomachs that rich people have will not allow them to sleep.

JPS Tanakh 1917
Sweet is the sleep of a labouring man, whether he eat little or much; but the satiety of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

New American Standard 1977
The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much. But the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.

Jubilee Bible 2000
The sleep of the servant is sweet whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

King James 2000 Bible
The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not allow him to sleep.

American King James Version
The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

American Standard Version
The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much; but the fulness of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Sleep is sweet to a labouring man, whether he eat lttle or much: but the fulness of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

Darby Bible Translation
The sleep of the labourer is sweet, whether he have eaten little or much; but the fulness of the rich doth not suffer him to sleep.

English Revised Version
The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the fulness of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

Webster's Bible Translation
The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eateth little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

World English Bible
The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not allow him to sleep.

Young's Literal Translation
Sweet is the sleep of the labourer whether he eat little or much; and the sufficiency of the wealthy is not suffering him to sleep.
Study Bible
Wealth is Meaningless
11When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners except to look on? 12The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep. 13There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt.…
Cross References
Psalm 127:2
It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.

Proverbs 3:24
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Treasury of Scripture

The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

Psalm 4:8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for you, LORD, only …

Psalm 127:2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread …

Proverbs 3:24 When you lie down, you shall not be afraid: yes, you shall lie down, …

Jeremiah 31:26 On this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet to me.

Verse 12. - Another inconvenience of great wealth - it robs a man of his sleep. The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much. The laborer is the husbandman, the tiller of the ground (Genesis 4:2). The Septuagint, with a different pointing, renders δούλου, "slave," which is less appropriate, the fact being generally true of free or bond man. Whether his fare be plentiful or scanty, the honest laborer earns and enjoys his night's rest. But the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep. The allusion is not to the overloading of the stomach, which might occasion sleeplessness in the case of the poor equally with the rich man, but to the cares and anxieties which wealth brings. "Not a soft couch, nor a bedstead overlaid with silver, nor the quietness that exists throughout the house, nor any other circumstance of this nature, are so generally wont to make sleep sweet and pleasant, as that of laboring, and growing weary, and lying down with a disposition to sleep, and very greatly needing it .... Not so the rich. On the contrary, whilst lying on their beds, they are frequently without sleep through the whole night; and, though they devise many schemes, they do not obtain such pleasure" (St. Chrysostom, 'Hom. on Stat.,' 22). The contrast between the grateful sleep of the tired worker and the disturbed rest of the avaricious and moneyed and luxurious has formed a fruitful theme for poets. Thus Horace, 'Carm.,' 3:1.21 -

"Somnus agrestium
Lenis virorum non humiles domes
Fastidit umbrosamque ripam,
Non Zephyris agitata Tempe."


"Yet sleep turns never from the lowly shed
Of humbler-minded men, nor from the eaves
In Tempe's graceful vale is banished,
Where only Zephyrs stir the murmuring leaves."


(Stanley.) And the reverse, 'Sat.,' 1:1.76, sqq. -

"An vigilare metu exanimem, noctesque diesque
Formidare males fures, inccndia, serves,
Ne to compilent fugientes, hoc juvat?"


"But what are your indulgencies? All day,
All night, to watch and shudder with dismay,
Lest ruffians fire your house, or slaves by stealth
Rifle your coffers, and abstract your wealth?
If this be affluence - this her boasted fruit,
Of all such joys may I live destitute."


(Howes.) Comp. Juvenal, 'Sat.,' 10:12, sqq.; 14:304. Shakespeare, 'Henry IV.,' Pt. II., act 3. sc. 1 -

"Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,
And hush'd with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber,
Than in the perfumed chambers of the great,
Under the canopies of costly state,
And lulled with sounds of sweetest melody?"
The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much,.... Or "of a servant" (i), who enjoys sleep equally as a king; a tiller of the ground, as Jarchi; who also interprets it of one that serves the Lord, as likewise the Targum; a beloved one of his, to whom he gives sleep, Psalm 127:2. A refreshing sleep is always reckoned a great mercy and blessing, and which labouring men enjoy with sweetness (k); for if they have but little to eat at supper, yet coming weary from their work, sleep is easily brought on when they lie down, and sound sleep they have, and rise in the morning lively and active, and fit for business; or, if they eat more plentifully, yet through their labour they have a good digestion, and their sleep is not hindered: so that should it be answered to the above question, what has the master more than the servant, though he eats and drinks more freely, and of the best, and lives voluptuously? yet it may be replied, that, in the business of sleep, the labouring man has the preference to him; which must be owned to be a great blessing of life, and is often interrupted by excessive eating and drinking;

but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep; either the abundance of food which he eats, which loads his stomach, and fills his head with vapours, and makes him restless, so that he can get no sleep, or what he does get is very uncomfortable: or the abundance of his riches fills him with cares, what he shall do with them, and how to keep and increase them; and with fears, lest thieves should break in and take them away from him, so that he cannot sleep quietly (l). The Targum is,

"sweet is the sleep of a man that serves the Lord of the world with a perfect heart; and he shall have rest in the house of his grave, whether he lives a few years or more, &c;''

and much to the same purpose Jarchi; and who says, it is thus interpreted in an ancient book of theirs, called Tanchuma.

(i) , Sept. "servi", Arab. "i.e. agricolae", Drusius, Rambachius; "qui par regi famuloque venis", Senec. Hercul. Fur. v. 1073. (k) "Somnus agrestium lenis", &c. Horat. Carmin. l. 3. Ode 1. v. 21, 22. (l) "Ne noctu, nec diu quietus unquam eam", Plauti Aulularia, Acts 1. Sc. 1. v. 23. "Aurea rumpunt tecta quietem", Senec. Hercul. Oet. v. 646. 12. Another argument against anxiety to gain riches. "Sleep … sweet" answers to "quietness" (Ec 4:6); "not suffer … sleep," to "vexation of spirit." Fears for his wealth, and an overloaded stomach without "laboring" (compare Ec 4:5), will not suffer the rich oppressor to sleep.5:9-17 The goodness of Providence is more equally distributed than appears to a careless observer. The king needs the common things of life, and the poor share them; they relish their morsel better than he does his luxuries. There are bodily desires which silver itself will not satisfy, much less will worldly abundance satisfy spiritual desires. The more men have, the better house they must keep, the more servants they must employ, the more guests they must entertain, and the more they will have hanging on them. The sleep of the labourer is sweet, not only because he is tired, but because he has little care to break his sleep. The sleep of the diligent Christian, and his long sleep, are sweet; having spent himself and his time in the service of God, he can cheerfully repose in God as his Rest. But those who have every thing else, often fail to secure a good night's sleep; their abundance breaks their rest. Riches do hurt, and draw away the heart from God and duty. Men do hurt with their riches, not only gratifying their own lusts, but oppressing others, and dealing hardly with them. They will see that they have laboured for the wind, when, at death, they find the profit of their labour is all gone like the wind, they know not whither. How ill the covetous worldling bears the calamities of human life! He does not sorrow to repentance, but is angry at the providence of God, angry at all about him; which doubles his affliction.
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