Ecclesiastes 6:3
Parallel Verses
New International Version
A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.

New Living Translation
A man might have a hundred children and live to be very old. But if he finds no satisfaction in life and doesn't even get a decent burial, it would have been better for him to be born dead.

English Standard Version
If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life’s good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.

New American Standard Bible
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,

King James Bible
If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
A man may father a hundred children and live many years. No matter how long he lives, if he is not satisfied by good things and does not even have a proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.

International Standard Version
A man might father a hundred children, and live for many years, so that the length of his life is long—but if his life does not overflow with goodness, and he doesn't receive a proper burial, I maintain that stillborn children are better off than he is,

NET Bible
Even if a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years--even if he lives a long, long time, but cannot enjoy his prosperity--even if he were to live forever--I would say, "A stillborn child is better off than he is!"

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Suppose a rich person wasn't satisfied with good things [while he was alive] and didn't even get an honorable burial [after he died]. Suppose he had a hundred children and lived for many years. No matter how long he would have lived, it [still] would have been better for him to have been born dead.

Jubilee Bible 2000
If a man begets a hundred sons and lives many years so that the days of his years are many, if his soul is not filled with good and also that he have no burial; I say that an aborted birth is better than he.

King James 2000 Bible
If a man begets a hundred children, and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, and his soul is not filled with good, and also that he has no burial; I say, that a stillborn birth is better than he.

American King James Version
If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he.

American Standard Version
If a man beget a hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul be not filled with good, and moreover he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he:

Douay-Rheims Bible
If a man beget a hundred children, and live many years, and attain to a great age, and his soul make no use of the goods of his substance, and he be without burial: of this man I pronounce, that the untimely born is better than he.

Darby Bible Translation
If a man beget a hundred [sons], and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, but his soul be not filled with good, and also he have no burial, I say an untimely birth is better than he.

English Revised Version
If a man beget an hundred children and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, but his soul be not filled with good, and moreover he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he:

Webster's Bible Translation
If a man begetteth a hundred children, and liveth many years, so that the days of his years are many, and his soul is not filled with good, and also that he hath no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he.

World English Bible
If a man fathers a hundred children, and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not filled with good, and moreover he has no burial; I say, that a stillborn child is better than he:

Young's Literal Translation
If a man doth beget a hundred, and live many years, and is great, because they are the days of his years, and his soul is not satisfied from the goodness, and also he hath not had a grave, I have said, 'Better than he is the untimely birth.'
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

6:1-6 A man often has all he needs for outward enjoyment; yet the Lord leaves him so to covetousness or evil dispositions, that he makes no good or comfortable use of what he has. By one means or other his possessions come to strangers; this is vanity, and an evil disease. A numerous family was a matter of fond desire and of high honour among the Hebrews; and long life is the desire of mankind in general. Even with these additions a man may not be able to enjoy his riches, family, and life. Such a man, in his passage through life, seems to have been born for no end or use. And he who has entered on life only for one moment, to quit it the next, has a preferable lot to him who has lived long, but only to suffer.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 3. - If a man beget an hundred children. Another case is supposed, differing from,the preceding one, where the rich man dies childless. Septuagint, Ἐὰν γεννήσῃ ἀνὴρ, ἑκατόν. "Sons,' or "children," must be supplied (comp. 1 Samuel 2:5; Jeremiah 15:9). To have a large family was regarded as a great blessing. The "hundred" is a round number, though we read of some fathers who had nearly this number of children; thus Ahab had seventy sons (2 Kings 10:1), Rehoboam eighty-eight children (2 Chronicles 11:21). Plumptre follows some commentators in seeing here an allusion to Artaxerxes Mnemon, who is said to have had a hundred and fifteen children, and died of grief at the age of ninety-four at the suicide of one son and the murder of another. Wordsworth opines that Solomon, in the previous verse, was thinking of Jeroboam, who, it was revealed unto him, should, stranger as he was, seize and enjoy his inheritance. But these historical references are the merest guesswork, and rest upon no substantial basis. Plainly the author's statement is general, and there is no need to ransack history to find its parallel. And live many years, so that the days of his years be many; Et vixerit multos annos, et plures dies aetatis habuerit (Vulgate). These versions seem to be simply tautological. The second clause is climacteric, as Ginsburg renders, "Yea, numerous as may be the days of his years." The whole extent of years is summed up in days. So Psalm 90:10, "The days of our years are three score years and ten," etc. Long life, again, was deemed a special blessing, as we see in the commandment with promise (Exodus 20:12). And (yet if) his soul not filled with good; i.e. he does not satisfy himself with the enjoyment of all the good things which he possesses. Septuagint, Καὶ ψυχὴ αὐτοῦ οὐ πλησθήσεται ἀπὸ τῆς ἀγαθωσύνης "And his soul shall not be satisfied with his good." And also that he have no burial. This is the climax of the evil that befalls him. Some critics, not entering into Koheleth's view of the severity of this calamity, translate, "and even if the grave did not wait for him," i.e. "if he were never to die," if he were immortal. But there is no parallel to show that the clause can have this meaning; and we know, without having recourse to Greek precedents, that the want of burial was reckoned a grievous loss and dishonor. Hence comes the common allusion to dead carcasses being left to be devoured by beasts and birds, instead of meeting with honorable burial in the ancestral graves (1 Kings 13:22; Isaiah 14:18-20). Thus David says to his giant foe, "I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth" (1 Samuel 17:46); and about Jehoiakim it was denounced that he should not be lamented when he died: "He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem" (Jeremiah 22:18, 19). The lot of the rich man in question is proclaimed with ever-increasing misery. Ha cannot enjoy his possessions; he has none to whom to leave them; his memory perishes; he has no honored burial. I say, that an untimely birth is better than he (comp. Ecclesiastes 4:3). The abortion or still-born child is preferable to one whose destiny is so miserable (see Job 3:16; Psalm 58:8). It is preferable because, although it has missed all the pleasures of life, it has at least escaped all suffering. The next two verses illustrate this position.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

If a man beget an hundred children,.... Sons and daughters, a certain number for an uncertain. Some have had many children, and almost this number; Rehoboam had twenty eight sons and threescore daughters; and Ahab had seventy sons, how many daughters is not said, 2 Chronicles 11:21; this was reckoned a great honour and happiness to have many children; happy was the man that had his quiver full of them, Psalm 127:3; such a case is here supposed;

and live many years, so that the days of his years be many; or "sufficient", as Jarchi interprets it; he lives as long as life is desirable; lives to a good old age, to the full age of men, threescore years and ten; yea, supposing he was to live to be as old as Methuselah,

and his soul be not filled with good; does not enjoy the good things he has; has no pleasure nor satisfaction in the temporal good things of life, has not the comfort of them, and is always uneasy, because he has not more of them; and especially if his soul is not filled with spiritual good things, the grace of God, and righteousness of Christ;

And also that he have no burial; as Jezebel, Jehoiakim, and others; who is either destroyed by robbers and cutthroats, for the sake of his substance, and cast into a ditch or a river, or some place, where he is never found to be interred; or else, being of such a sordid disposition, he provides not for a decent burial, suitably to his circumstances, or forbids one; or, being despised and disesteemed by all men, his heirs and successors either neglect or refuse to give him one; see Jeremiah 22:29;

I say that an untimely birth is better than he; an abortive is to be preferred unto him; it would have been better for him if he had never been born, or had been in such a case.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

3. Even if a man (of this character) have very many (equivalent to "a hundred," 2Ki 10:1) children, and not have a "stranger" as his heir (Ec 6:2), and live long ("days of years" express the brevity of life at its best, Ge 47:9), yet enjoy no real "good" in life, and lie unhonored, without "burial," at death (2Ki 9:26, 35), the embryo is better than he. In the East to be without burial is the greatest degradation. "Better the fruit that drops from the tree before it is ripe than that left to hang on till rotten" [Henry].

Ecclesiastes 6:3 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Futility of Life
2a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing of all that he desires; yet God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a foreigner enjoys them. This is vanity and a severe affliction. 3If 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, 4for it comes in futility and goes into obscurity; and its name is covered in obscurity.…
Cross References
Job 3:16
Or why was I not hidden away in the ground like a stillborn child, like an infant who never saw the light of day?

Psalm 58:8
May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along, like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.

Ecclesiastes 4:3
But better than both is the one who has never been born, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 6:4
It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded.

Isaiah 14:20
you will not join them in burial, for you have destroyed your land and killed your people. Let the offspring of the wicked never be mentioned again.

Jeremiah 8:2
They will be exposed to the sun and the moon and all the stars of the heavens, which they have loved and served and which they have followed and consulted and worshiped. They will not be gathered up or buried, but will be like dung lying on the ground.

Jeremiah 22:19
He will have the burial of a donkey-- dragged away and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem."
Treasury of Scripture

If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he.

a man

Genesis 33:5 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and …

1 Samuel 2:20,21 And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The LORD give you …

2 Kings 10:1 And Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. And Jehu wrote letters, and …

1 Chronicles 28:5 And of all my sons…

2 Chronicles 11:21 And Rehoboam loved Maachah the daughter of Absalom above all his …

Esther 5:11 And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude …

Psalm 127:4,5 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth…

Proverbs 17:6 Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children …

Genesis 47:9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage …

and also

2 Kings 9:35 And they went to bury her: but they found no more of her than the …

Esther 7:10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. …

Esther 9:14,15 And the king commanded it so to be done: and the decree was given …

Isaiah 14:19,20 But you are cast out of your grave like an abominable branch, and …

Jeremiah 22:19 He shall be buried with the burial of an donkey, drawn and cast forth …

Jeremiah 36:30 Therefore thus said the LORD of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall …

that

Ecclesiastes 4:3 Yes, better is he than both they, which has not yet been, who has …

Job 3:16 Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light.

Psalm 58:8 As a snail which melts, let every one of them pass away: like the …

Matthew 26:24 The Son of man goes as it is written of him…

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Alphabetical: A and be better burial but cannot child children does enjoy even fathers good have he his how however hundred I if is live lives long man many matter may miscarriage no not off proper prosperity receive satisfied say soul stillborn than that the then they things with years yet

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