Ecclesiastes 4:4
New International Version
And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person's envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

New Living Translation
Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

English Standard Version
Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Berean Study Bible
I saw that all labor and success spring from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.

King James Bible
Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.

New King James Version
Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbor. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.

New American Standard Bible
I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a person and his neighbor. This too is futility and striving after wind.

NASB 1995
I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind.

NASB 1977
And I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind.

Amplified Bible
I have seen that every [effort in] labor and every skill in work comes from man’s rivalry with his neighbor. This too is vanity (futility, false pride) and chasing after the wind.

Christian Standard Bible
I saw that all labor and all skillful work is due to one person’s jealousy of another. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
I saw that all labor and all skillful work is due to a man's jealousy of his friend. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.

American Standard Version
Then I saw all labor and every skilful work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
I have seen all the labors and all successes of the owners of a work, because the zeal of a man is more than his neighbor’s, and this also is futility and agitation of spirit

Brenton Septuagint Translation
And I saw all labour, and all the diligent work, that this is a man's envy from his neighbour. This is also vanity and waywardness of spirit.

Contemporary English Version
Then I realized that we work and do wonderful things just because we are jealous of others. This makes no more sense than chasing the wind.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Again I considered all the labours of men, and I remarked that their industries are exposed to the envy of their neighhour: so in this also there is vanity, and fruitless care.

English Revised Version
Then I saw all labour and every skilful work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Good News Translation
I have also learned why people work so hard to succeed: it is because they envy the things their neighbors have. But it is useless. It is like chasing the wind.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Then I saw that all hard work and skillful effort come from rivalry. Even this is pointless. [It's like] trying to catch the wind.

International Standard Version
Then I examined all sorts of work, including all kinds of excellent achievements that create envy in others. This also is pointless and chasing after the wind.

JPS Tanakh 1917
Again, I considered all labour and all excelling in work, that it is a man's rivalry with his neighbour. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Literal Standard Version
And I have seen all the labor, and all the benefit of the work, because for it a man is the envy of his neighbor. Even this [is] vanity and distress of spirit.

NET Bible
Then I considered all the skillful work that is done: Surely it is nothing more than competition between one person and another. This also is profitless--like chasing the wind.

New Heart English Bible
Then I saw all the labor and achievement that is the envy of a man's neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

World English Bible
Then I saw all the labor and achievement that is the envy of a man's neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Young's Literal Translation
And I have seen all the labour, and all the benefit of the work, because for it a man is the envy of his neighbour. Even this is vanity and vexation of spirit.

Additional Translations ...
Context
The Evil of Oppression
3But better than both is he who has not yet existed, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun. 4I saw that all labor and success spring from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind. 5The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh.…

Cross References
Ecclesiastes 1:14
I have seen all the things that are done under the sun, and have found them all to be futile, a pursuit of the wind.

Ecclesiastes 1:17
So I set my mind to know wisdom and madness and folly; I learned that this, too, is a pursuit of the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:21
When there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, and he must give his portion to a man who has not worked for it, this too is futile and a great evil.


Treasury of Scripture

Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.

Genesis 4:4-8
And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: …

Genesis 37:2-11
These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report…

1 Samuel 18:8,9,14-16,29,30
And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom? …

this is

Ecclesiastes 3:16
And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.

Ecclesiastes 1:14
I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

Ecclesiastes 2:21,26
For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil…









(4) Right work.--Rather, skilful. (See Note on Ecclesiastes 2:21.)

Verses 4-6. - Secondly, success meets with envy, and produces no lasting good to the worker; yet, however unsatisfactory the result, man must continue to labor, as idleness is ruin. Verse 4. - Again, I considered all travail, and every right work. The word rendered "right" is kishron (see on Ecclesiastes 2:21), and means rather "dexterity," "success." Kohe-leth says that he reflected upon the industry that men exhibit, and the skill and dexterity with which they ply their incessant toil. There is no reference to moral rectitude in the reflection, and the allusion to the ostracism of Aristides for being called "Just" overshoots the mark (see Wordsworth, in loc.). Septuagint, σύμπασαν ἀνρίαν τοῦ ποιήματος, "all manliness of his work." That for this a man is envied of his neighbor. Kinah may mean either "object of envy" or "envious rivalry;" i.e. the clause may be translated as above, or, as in the Revised Version margin, "it cometh of a man's rivalry with his neighbor." The Septuagint is ambiguous, Ὅτι αὐτὸ ζῆλος ἀνδρὸς ἀπὸ τοῦ ἑταίρου αὐτοῦ, "That this is a man's envy from his comrade;" Vulgate, Industrias animadverti patere invidiae proximi, "Lay open to a neighbor's envy." In the first case the thought is that unusual skill and success expose a man to envy and ill will, which rob labor of all enjoyment. In the second case the writer says that this superiority and dexterity arise from a mean motive, an envious desire to outstrip a neighbor, and, based on such low ground, can lead to nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit, a striving after wind. The former explanation seems more in accordance with Koheleth's gloomy view. Success itself is no guarantee of happiness; the malice and ill feeling which it invariably occasions are necessarily a source of pain and distress.

Parallel Commentaries ...


Hebrew
I
אֲנִ֜י (’ă·nî)
Pronoun - first person common singular
Strong's 589: I

saw
וְרָאִ֨יתִֽי (wə·rā·’î·ṯî)
Conjunctive waw | Verb - Qal - Conjunctive perfect - first person common singular
Strong's 7200: To see

that all
כָּל־ (kāl-)
Noun - masculine singular construct
Strong's 3605: The whole, all, any, every

labor
עָמָ֗ל (‘ā·māl)
Noun - masculine singular
Strong's 5999: Toil, wearing effort, worry, wheth, of body, mind

and
וְאֵת֙ (wə·’êṯ)
Conjunctive waw | Direct object marker
Strong's 853: Untranslatable mark of the accusative case

success
כִּשְׁר֣וֹן (kiš·rō·wn)
Noun - masculine singular construct
Strong's 3788: Success, advantage

spring from
כִּ֛י (kî)
Conjunction
Strong's 3588: A relative conjunction

a man’s
אִ֖ישׁ (’îš)
Noun - masculine singular
Strong's 376: A man as an individual, a male person

envy
קִנְאַת־ (qin·’aṯ-)
Noun - feminine singular construct
Strong's 7068: Ardor, zeal, jealousy

of his neighbor.
מֵרֵעֵ֑הוּ (mê·rê·‘ê·hū)
Preposition-m | Noun - masculine singular construct | third person masculine singular
Strong's 7453: Friend, companion, fellow

This
זֶ֥ה (zeh)
Pronoun - masculine singular
Strong's 2088: This, that

too
גַּם־ (gam-)
Conjunction
Strong's 1571: Assemblage, also, even, yea, though, both, and

is futile
הֶ֖בֶל (he·ḇel)
Noun - masculine singular
Strong's 1892: Emptiness, vanity, transitory, unsatisfactory

and a pursuit
וּרְע֥וּת (ū·rə·‘ūṯ)
Conjunctive waw | Noun - feminine singular construct
Strong's 7469: A feeding upon, grasping after

of the wind.
רֽוּחַ׃ (rū·aḥ)
Noun - common singular
Strong's 7307: Wind, breath, exhalation, life, anger, unsubstantiality, a region of the sky, spirit


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OT Poetry: Ecclesiastes 4:4 Then I saw all the labor (Ecclesiast. Ec Ecc Eccles.)
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