Ecclesiastes 8:14
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless.

New Living Translation
And this is not all that is meaningless in our world. In this life, good people are often treated as though they were wicked, and wicked people are often treated as though they were good. This is so meaningless!

English Standard Version
There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity.

New American Standard Bible
There is futility which is done on the earth, that is, there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked. On the other hand, there are evil men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I say that this too is futility.

King James Bible
There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
There is a futility that is done on the earth: there are righteous people who get what the actions of the wicked deserve, and there are wicked people who get what the actions of the righteous deserve. I say that this too is futile.

International Standard Version
Here is a pointless thing that happens on earth: A righteous man receives what happens to the wicked, and a wicked man receives what happens to the righteous. I concluded that this, too, is pointless.

NET Bible
Here is another enigma that occurs on earth: Sometimes there are righteous people who get what the wicked deserve, and sometimes there are wicked people who get what the righteous deserve. I said, "This also is an enigma."

New Heart English Bible
There is a vanity which is done on the earth, that there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked. Again, there are wicked men to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
There is something being done on earth that is pointless. Righteous people suffer for what the wicked do, and wicked people get what the righteous deserve. I say that even this is pointless.

JPS Tanakh 1917
There is a vanity which is done upon the earth: that there are righteous men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous--I said that this also is vanity.

New American Standard 1977
There is futility which is done on the earth, that is, there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked. On the other hand, there are evil men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I say that this too is futility.

Jubilee Bible 2000
There is another vanity which is done upon the earth: that there are just men, who are recompensed as if they had done according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men, who are recompensed as if they had done according to the work of the righteous; I say that this also is vanity.

King James 2000 Bible
There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there are just men, unto whom it happens according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men, to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.

American King James Version
There is a vanity which is done on the earth; that there be just men, to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.

American Standard Version
There is a vanity which is done upon the earth, that there are righteous men unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.

Douay-Rheims Bible
There is also another vanity, which is done upon the earth. There are just men to whom evils happen, as though they had done the works of the wicked: and there are wicked men, who are as secure, as though they had the deeds of the just: but this also I judge most vain.

Darby Bible Translation
There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there are righteous [men] unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; and there are wicked [men] to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity.

English Revised Version
There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be righteous men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.

Webster's Bible Translation
There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there are just men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.

World English Bible
There is a vanity which is done on the earth, that there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked. Again, there are wicked men to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity.

Young's Literal Translation
There is a vanity that hath been done upon the earth, that there are righteous ones unto whom it is coming according to the work of the wicked, and there are wicked ones unto whom it is coming according to the work of the righteous. I have said that this also is vanity.
Study Bible
God's Ways are Mysterious
13But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God. 14There is futility which is done on the earth, that is, there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked. On the other hand, there are evil men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I say that this too is futility. 15So I commended pleasure, for there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to drink and to be merry, and this will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.…
Cross References
Job 21:7
"Why do the wicked still live, Continue on, also become very powerful?

Psalm 73:3
For I was envious of the arrogant As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

Psalm 73:12
Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased in wealth.

Psalm 73:14
For I have been stricken all day long And chastened every morning.

Ecclesiastes 7:15
I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness.

Jeremiah 12:1
Righteous are You, O LORD, that I would plead my case with You; Indeed I would discuss matters of justice with You: Why has the way of the wicked prospered? Why are all those who deal in treachery at ease?

Malachi 3:15
'So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up but they also test God and escape.'"
Treasury of Scripture

There is a vanity which is done on the earth; that there be just men, to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.

a vanity

Ecclesiastes 4:4,8 Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this …

Ecclesiastes 9:3 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that …

Ecclesiastes 10:5 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which …

there shall be just

Ecclesiastes 2:14 The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walks in darkness: …

Ecclesiastes 7:15 All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just …

Ecclesiastes 9:1-3 For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that …

Job 9:22-24 This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroys the perfect and …

Job 21:17 How oft is the candle of the wicked put out! and how oft comes their …

Job 24:21-25 He evil entreats the barren that bears not: and does not good to the widow…

Psalm 73:13,14 Truly I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence…

Malachi 3:15 And now we call the proud happy; yes, they that work wickedness are …

(14) Happeneth.--The word is used in this sense only in Esther 9:26.

Verse 14. - There is a vanity which is done upon the earth. The vanity is named in what follows, viz. the seeming injustice it, the distribution of good and evil. There be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked (comp. ver. 10; Ecclesiastes 3:16). The melancholy fact is noted that the righteous often experience that fate with which the wicked are threatened, which their conduct might be expected to bring upon them. The verb translated "happeneth" (nags), with el, "to come to," "strike against," is thus used only in later Hebrew, e.g., Esther 9:26. According to the work of the righteous. The wicked meet with that outward prosperity and success which were thought to be the special reward of those who served God. The Vulgate is explanatory, "There are just men whom evils befall as if they did the works of the wicked; and there are wicked men who are as free from care as if they had the deeds of the just." Commenting on Job 34:10, 11, St. Gregory writes, "It is by no means always the case in this life that God renders to each man according to his work and according to his own ways. For both many who commit unlawful and wicked deeds he prevents of his free grace, and converts to works of holiness; and some who are devoted to good deeds he reproves by means of the scourge, and so afflicts those who please him, as though they were displeasing to him.... God doubtless so ordains it of his inestimable mercy, that both scourges should torture the just, lest their doings should elate them, and that the unjust should pass this life at least without punishment, because by their evil doings they are hastening onwards to those torments which are without end. For that the just are sometimes scourged in no way according to their deserts is shown by this history of Job. Elihu, therefore, would speak more truly if he had said that there is not unmercifulness and iniquity in God, even when he seems not to render to men according to their ways. For even that which we do not understand is brought forth from the righteous balance of secret judgment" ('Moral.,' 24:44). Koheleth ends by repeating his melancholy refrain, I said that this also (indeed) is vanity. This conclusion, however, does not lead to despair or infidelity. There is a vanity which is done upon the earth,.... Transacted in this lower world under the sun, through the permission and direction of divine Providence; not that it is a vanity on the part of God, who has wise ends to answer by it, for the good of his people, the trial of their graces, &c. or to bring sinners to repentance, or harden them in sin; but this shows the vanity and uncertainty of all worldly things, and that there is no happiness to be had in them;

that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked: to whom evil comes, as the Targum and Jarchi; who are treated as if they were wicked men, and dealt with in providence as sinners would be, if they had the just desert of their wicked works; being attended with poverty, sickness, and disgrace, and other calamities of life, as Job, Asaph, Lazarus, and others, and yet truly righteous and good men;

again, there be wicked men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous; to whom good things come, as the Targum and Jarchi; who have an affluence of good things, all the outward blessings of life, as health, wealth, honour, long life, &c. as if they had lived the best of lives, and were the most righteous persons upon earth; see Job 21:7;

I said, that this also is vanity; this is said, as some think, according to the judgment of corrupt nature; or as it is apprehended by such who do not rightly consider the judgments of God and the wisdom of Providence in the ordering of things to answer good purposes; or rather the sense is, this is one of the miseries and infelicities of this life, and which demonstrates the emptiness of all things here below, and that the chief good and supreme happiness is not to be had here; but there is and must be a future state, when all things will be set right, and everyone will have and enjoy his proper portion. 14. An objection is here started (entertained by Solomon in his apostasy), as in Ec 3:16; 7:15, to the truth of retributive justice, from the fact of the just and the wicked not now receiving always according to their respective deserts; a cavil, which would seem the more weighty to men living under the Mosaic covenant of temporal sanctions. The objector adds, as Solomon had said, that the worldling's pursuits are "vanity" (Ec 8:10), "I say (not 'said') this also is vanity. Then I commend mirth," etc. [Holden]. Ec 8:14, 15 may, however, be explained as teaching a cheerful, thankful use of God's gifts "under the sun," that is, not making them the chief good, as sensualists do, which Ec 2:2; 7:2, forbid; but in "the fear of God," as Ec 3:12; 5:18; 7:18; 9:7, opposed to the abstinence of the self-righteous ascetic (Ec 7:16), and of the miser (Ec 5:17).8:14-17 Faith alone can establish the heart in this mixed scene, where the righteous often suffer, and the wicked prosper. Solomon commended joy, and holy security of mind, arising from confidence in God, because a man has no better thing under the sun, though a good man has much better things above the sun, than soberly and thankfully to use the things of this life according to his rank. He would not have us try to give a reason for what God does. But, leaving the Lord to clear up all difficulties in his own time, we may cheerfully enjoy the comforts, and bear up under the trials of life; while peace of conscience and joy in the Holy Ghost will abide in us through all outward changes, and when flesh and heart shall fail.
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