Ecclesiastes 5:16
Parallel Verses
New International Version
This too is a grievous evil: As everyone comes, so they depart, and what do they gain, since they toil for the wind?

New Living Translation
And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing--like working for the wind.

English Standard Version
This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what gain is there to him who toils for the wind?

New American Standard Bible
This also is a grievous evil-- exactly as a man is born, thus will he die. So what is the advantage to him who toils for the wind?

King James Bible
And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind?

Holman Christian Standard Bible
This too is a sickening tragedy: exactly as he comes, so he will go. What does the one gain who struggles for the wind?

International Standard Version
This is also a painful tragedy: However a person comes, he also departs; so what does he gain as he labors after the wind?

NET Bible
This is another misfortune: Just as he came, so will he go. What did he gain from toiling for the wind?

GOD'S WORD® Translation
This also is a painful tragedy: They leave exactly as they came. What advantage do they gain from working so hard for the wind?

Jubilee Bible 2000
And this also is a sore evil; that in all points as he came, so shall he go; and what profit has he that has laboured for the wind?

King James 2000 Bible
And this also is a great evil, that just as he came, so shall he go: and what profit has he who has labored for the wind?

American King James Version
And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit has he that has labored for the wind?

American Standard Version
And this also is a grievous evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that he laboreth for the wind?

Douay-Rheims Bible
A most deplorable evil: as he came, so shall he return. What then doth it profit him that he hath laboured for the wind?

Darby Bible Translation
And this also is a grievous evil, that in all points as he came so doth he go away, and what profit hath he, in having laboured for the wind?

English Revised Version
And this also is a grievous evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that he laboureth for the wind?

Webster's Bible Translation
And this also is a grievous evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath labored for the wind?

World English Bible
This also is a grievous evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go. And what profit does he have who labors for the wind?

Young's Literal Translation
And this also is a painful evil, just as he came, so he goeth, and what advantage is to him who laboureth for wind?
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

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.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 16. - This also is a sore evil. The thought of ver. 15 is emphatically repeated. In all points as he came; i.e. naked, helpless. And what profit hath he that laboreth for the wind? The answer is emphatically "nothing." We have had similar questions in Ecclesiastes 1:3; Ecclesiastes 2:22; Ecclesiastes 3:9. To labor for the wind is to toil with no result, like the "feeding on wind, pursuing of vanity," which is the key-note of the book. The wind is the type of all that is empty, delusive, unsubstantial. In Proverbs 11:29 we have the phrase, "to inherit the wind." Job calls futile arguments "words of wind" (Job 16:3; Job 15:2). Thus the Greek proverb Ἀνέμους θ᾿ρᾶν ἐν δικτύος to try to catch the wind:" and the Latin, "Ventos pascere," and "Ventos colere "(see Erasmus, 'Adag.,' s.v. "Inanis opera"). Septuagint, Καὶ τίς ἡ περίσσεια αὐτοῦ η΅ι μοχθεῖ εἰς ἄνεμον; "And what is his gain for which he labors for the wind?"

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came,

so shall he go,.... This seems not to be an evil or vanity, distinct from the former; but the same repeated and confirmed, and expressed, if possible, in stronger terms, that a man is in all respects alike, when he goes out of the world, as when he came in. A man's birth is signified by "coming", that is, out of his mother's womb, and into the world; and which is a description of every man born into it, John 1:9; he is of the earth, earthly; comes forth like a flower, and springs up as grass; he comes not of himself, nor casually, but by means of his parents; and according to the determinate will of God, and to answer some end or other: and his death is signified by "going": a going the way of all flesh; a going out of the world; a going to the grave, the house of all living, a man's long home; it is like going from one house to another; for death is not an annihilation of man, but a remove of him from hence elsewhere; and a man's birth and death are in all points alike. This is to be understood of natural and civil things; of riches and honours, which men cannot carry with them; and with respect to them, they are as they were born, naked and stripped of them; and with respect to the body, the parts of it then are the same, though more grown; it is as naked as it was born; and a man is as much beholden to his friends for his grave as for his swaddling clothes; it becomes what it was at first, earth and dust; and as a man comes not into the world at his own will and pleasure, so neither does he go out of it at his will, but the Lord's. The Midrash interprets it thus,

"as a man comes into the world, with crying, weeping, and sighing, and without knowledge, so he goes out.''

Likewise this is only true of natural and unregenerate men as to moral things; as they are born in sin, they die in sin; with only this difference, an addition of more sin; as they come into the world without the image of God, without a righteousness, without holiness, and without the grace of God, so they go out of it without these things: but this is not true of saints and truly gracious persons; they come into the world with sin, but go out of it without it; being washed in the blood of Christ, justified by his righteousness, and all their sins expiated and pardoned through his sacrifice: they are born without a righteousness, but do not die without one; Christ has wrought out an everlasting righteousness for them; this is imputed to them; is received by faith; given them; they are found in it, living and dying; and this introduces them into heaven and happiness: they are born without holiness, but do not live and die without it; they are regenerated and sanctified by the Spirit of God, and at the moment of death made perfectly holy. This only therefore is true of men, as natural, and with respect to natural and civil things: the Targum interprets it,

"as he comes into this world void of merit, so he shall go into that;''

and what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind? for riches, which are as unsatisfying as the wind; which are as shifting, and as swift to flee away, as that; and can no more be held, when it is the will of God they should go, and especially at death, than the wind is to be held in the fist of men; and which are as unprofitable as that in the hour of death. Particularly, what profit has a man of all his riches, which he has got by labour, when he neither makes use of them in life for his own good, nor the good of others; and when he comes to die, they leave him and stand him in no stead; and especially having been unconcerned about his immortal soul; and having been wholly taken up in the pursuit of such vain and transitory things? see Matthew 16:26.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

16. Even supposing that he loses not his wealth before death, then at least he must go stripped of it all (Ps 49:17).

laboured for the wind—(Ho 12:1; 1Co 9:26).

Ecclesiastes 5:16 Additional Commentaries
Context
Wealth is Meaningless
15As he had come naked from his mother's womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand. 16This also is a grievous evil-- exactly as a man is born, thus will he die. So what is the advantage to him who toils for the wind? 17Throughout his life he also eats in darkness with great vexation, sickness and anger.…
Cross References
1 Corinthians 16:16
to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it.

Proverbs 11:29
Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.

Ecclesiastes 1:3
What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 2:11
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 3:9
What do workers gain from their toil?
Treasury of Scripture

And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit has he that has labored for the wind?

a sore

Ecclesiastes 5:13 There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches …

Ecclesiastes 2:22,23 For what has man of all his labor, and of the vexation of his heart, …

what

1 Samuel 12:21 And turn you not aside: for then should you go after vain things, …

Jeremiah 2:8 The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the …

Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, …

for

Ecclesiastes 1:3 What profit has a man of all his labor which he takes under the sun?

Proverbs 11:29 He that troubles his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool …

Isaiah 26:18 We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were …

Hosea 8:7 For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it …

John 6:27 Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that meat which endures …

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