Ecclesiastes 6:12
New International Version
For who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and meaningless days they pass through like a shadow? Who can tell them what will happen under the sun after they are gone?

New Living Translation
In the few days of our meaningless lives, who knows how our days can best be spent? Our lives are like a shadow. Who can tell what will happen on this earth after we are gone?

English Standard Version
For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?

Berean Study Bible
For who knows what is good for a man during the few days he passes through his fleeting life like a shadow? Who can tell a man what will come after him under the sun?

New American Standard Bible
For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his futile life? He will spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?

King James Bible
For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?

Christian Standard Bible
For who knows what is good for anyone in life, in the few days of his futile life that he spends like a shadow? Who can tell anyone what will happen after him under the sun?

Contemporary English Version
Life is short and meaningless, and it fades away like a shadow. Who knows what is best for us? Who knows what will happen after we are gone?

Good News Translation
How can anyone know what is best for us in this short, useless life of ours--a life that passes like a shadow? How can we know what will happen in the world after we die?

Holman Christian Standard Bible
For who knows what is good for man in life, in the few days of his futile life that he spends like a shadow? Who can tell man what will happen after him under the sun?

International Standard Version
Who knows what is best for people in this life, every day of their pointless lives that they pass through like a shadow? Who informs people on earth what will come along after them?

NET Bible
For no one knows what is best for a person during his life--during the few days of his fleeting life--for they pass away like a shadow. Nor can anyone tell him what the future will hold for him on earth.

New Heart English Bible
For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he spends like a shadow? For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Who knows what may be good for mortals while they are alive, during the brief, pointless days they live? Mortals pass by like a shadow. Who will tell them about their future under the sun?

JPS Tanakh 1917
For who knoweth what is good for man in his life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?

New American Standard 1977
For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his futile life? He will spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?

Jubilee Bible 2000
For who knows what is good for man in this life, all the days of the life of his vanity which he causes to be as a shadow? for who shall teach the man what shall be after him under the sun?

King James 2000 Bible
For who knows what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spends like a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?

American King James Version
For who knows what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spends as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?

American Standard Version
For who knoweth what is good for man in his life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?

Brenton Septuagint Translation
What advantage has a man? for who knows what is good for a man in his life, during the number of the life of the days of his vanity? and he has spent them as a shadow; for who shall tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?

Douay-Rheims Bible
What needeth a man to seek things that are above him, whereas he knoweth not what is profitable for him in his life, in all the days of his pilgrimage, and the time that passeth like a shadow? Or who can tell him what shall be after him under the sun?

Darby Bible Translation
For who knoweth what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell man what shall be after him under the sun?

English Revised Version
For who knoweth what is good for man in his life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?

Webster's Bible Translation
For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?

World English Bible
For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he spends like a shadow? For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?

Young's Literal Translation
For who knoweth what is good for a man in life, the number of the days of the life of his vanity, and he maketh them as a shadow? for who declareth to man what is after him under the sun?
Study Bible
The Futility of Life
11For the more words, the more futility—and how does that profit anyone? 12For who knows what is good for a man during the few days he passes through his fleeting life like a shadow? Who can tell a man what will come after him under the sun?
Cross References
Psalm 39:5
You, indeed, have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing before You. Truly each man at his best exists as but a breath. Selah

Ecclesiastes 2:3
My mind, all the while guiding me with wisdom, sought to cheer my body with wine and embrace folly, until I could see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives.

Ecclesiastes 2:24
Nothing is better for man than to eat and drink and enjoy his work. I have also seen that this is from the hand of God.

Ecclesiastes 3:22
I have seen that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will come after him?

Ecclesiastes 6:11
For the more words, the more futility--and how does that profit anyone?

Ecclesiastes 7:15
In my futile life I have seen both of these: A righteous man perishing in his righteousness, and a wicked man living long in his wickedness.

Ecclesiastes 8:7
Since no one knows what will happen, who can tell him what is to come?

Ecclesiastes 8:13
Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.

Ecclesiastes 9:9
Enjoy life with your beloved wife all the days of the fleeting life which has been given to you under the sun--all your fleeting days. For this is your portion in life and in your labor under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 10:14
Yet the fool multiplies words. No one knows what is coming, and who can tell him what will come after him?

Treasury of Scripture

For who knows what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spends as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?

who knoweth

Ecclesiastes 2:3
I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life.

Ecclesiastes 12:13
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Psalm 4:6
There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.

the days of his vain life

Ecclesiastes 8:13
But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.

Ecclesiastes 9:6
Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.

1 Chronicles 29:15
For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.

for who can

Ecclesiastes 3:22
Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

Ecclesiastes 8:7
For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?

Job 14:21
His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.







Lexicon
For
כִּ֣י (kî)
Conjunction
Strong's Hebrew 3588: A relative conjunction

who
מִֽי־ (mî-)
Interrogative
Strong's Hebrew 4310: Who?, whoever, in oblique construction with prefix, suffix

knows
יוֹדֵעַ֩ (yō·w·ḏê·a‘)
Verb - Qal - Participle - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 3045: To know

what
מַה־ (mah-)
Interrogative
Strong's Hebrew 4100: What?, what!, indefinitely what

is good
טּ֨וֹב (ṭō·wḇ)
Adjective - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 2896: Pleasant, agreeable, good

for a man
לָֽאָדָ֜ם (lā·’ā·ḏām)
Preposition-l, Article | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 120: Ruddy, a human being

during the few
מִסְפַּ֛ר (mis·par)
Noun - masculine singular construct
Strong's Hebrew 4557: A number, definite, indefinite, narration

days
יְמֵי־ (yə·mê-)
Noun - masculine plural construct
Strong's Hebrew 3117: A day

he passes through
וְיַעֲשֵׂ֣ם (wə·ya·‘ă·śêm)
Conjunctive waw | Verb - Qal - Conjunctive imperfect - third person masculine singular | third person masculine plural
Strong's Hebrew 6213: To do, make

his fleeting
הֶבְל֖וֹ (heḇ·lōw)
Noun - masculine singular construct | third person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 1892: Emptiness, vanity, transitory, unsatisfactory

life
חַיֵּ֥י (ḥay·yê)
Noun - masculine plural construct
Strong's Hebrew 2416: Alive, raw, fresh, strong, life

like a shadow?
כַּצֵּ֑ל (kaṣ·ṣêl)
Preposition-k, Article | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 6738: A shadow

Who
מִֽי־ (mî-)
Interrogative
Strong's Hebrew 4310: Who?, whoever, in oblique construction with prefix, suffix

can tell
יַגִּ֣יד (yag·gîḏ)
Verb - Hifil - Imperfect - third person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 5046: To be conspicuous

a man
לָֽאָדָ֔ם (lā·’ā·ḏām)
Preposition-l, Article | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 120: Ruddy, a human being

what
מַה־ (mah-)
Interrogative
Strong's Hebrew 4100: What?, what!, indefinitely what

will come
יִּהְיֶ֥ה (yih·yeh)
Verb - Qal - Imperfect - third person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 1961: To fall out, come to pass, become, be

after him
אַחֲרָ֖יו (’a·ḥă·rāw)
Preposition | third person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 310: The hind or following part

under
תַּ֥חַת (ta·ḥaṯ)
Preposition
Strong's Hebrew 8478: The bottom, below, in lieu of

the sun?
הַשָּֽׁמֶשׁ׃ (haš·šā·meš)
Article | Noun - common singular
Strong's Hebrew 8121: The sun, the east, a ray, a notched battlement
(12) As a shadow.--Ecclesiastes 8:13; Job 14:2.

Verse 12. - This verse in the Greek and Latin versions, as in some copies of the Hebrew, is divorced from its natural place, as the conclusion of the paragraph, vers. 10, 11, and is arranged as the commencement of Ecclesiastes 7. Plainly, the Divine prescience of vers. 10, 11 is closely connected with the question of man's ultimate good and his ignorance of the future, enunciated in this verse. For who knoweth what is good for man in this life? Such discussions are profitless, for man knows not what is his real good - whether pleasure, apathy, or virtue, as philosophers would put it. To decide such questions he must be able to foresee results, which is denied him. The interrogative "Who knows?" is equivalent to an emphatic negative, as Ecclesiastes 3:21, and is a common rhetorical form which surely need not be attributed to Pyrrhonism (Plumptre). All the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow. These words amplify and explain the term "in life" of the preceding clause. They may be rendered literally, During the number of the days of the life (Ecclesiastes 5:18) of his vanity, and he passeth them as a shadow. A life of vanity is one that yields no good result, full of empty aims, unsatisfied wishes, unfulfilled purposes. It is the man who is here compared to the shadow, not his life. So Job 14:2, "He fleeth as a shadow, and continueth not," He soon passes away, and leaves no trace behind him. The thought is common. "Ye [Revised Version] are a vapor," says St. James (James 4:14), "that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." Plumptre well quotes Soph., 'Ajax,' 125 -

 ῾ορῶ γὰρ ἡμᾶς οὐδὲν ὄντας ἄλλο πλὴν
Αἴδωλ ὅσοιπερ ζῶμεν η} κούφην σκιάν

"In this I see that we, all we that live,
Are but vain shadows, unsubstantial dreams."
To which we may add Pind., 'Pyth.,' 8:95 -

Ἐπάμεροι τί δέ τις τίδ οὔ τις σκιᾶς ὄναρ Ἄνθρωπος.

"Ye creatures of a day!
What is the great man what the poor?
Naught but a shadowy dream."
The comparison of man's life to a shadow or vapor is equally general (comp. Ecclesiastes 8:13; 1 Chronicles 29:15; Psalm 102:11; Psalm 144:4; Wisd. 2:5; James 4:14). The verb used for "spendeth" is asah, "to do or make," which recalls the Greek phrase, χρόνον ποιεῖν (Acts 15:33, etc.; Demosth., 'De Fals. Leg.,' p. 392, 17), and the Latin, dies facere (Cic., 'Ad Attic.,' 5:20. 1); but we need not trace Greek influence in the employment of the expression here. For who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun? This does not refer to the life beyond the grave, but to the future in the present world, as the words, "under the sun," imply (comp. Ecclesiastes 3:22; Ecclesiastes 7:14). To know what is best for him, to arrange his present life according to his own wishes and plans, to be able to depend upon his own counsel for all the actions and designs which he undertakes, man should know what is to be after him, what result his labors will have, who and what kind of heir will inherit his property, whether he will leave children to carry on his name, and other facts of the like nature; but as this is all hidden from him, his duty and his happiness is to acquiesce in the Divine government, to enjoy with moderation the goods of life, and to be content with the modified satisfaction which is accorded to him by Divine beneficence.



6:7-12 A little will serve to sustain us comfortably, and a great deal can do no more. The desires of the soul find nothing in the wealth of the world to give satisfaction. The poor man has comfort as well as the richest, and is under no real disadvantage. We cannot say, Better is the sight of the eyes than the resting of the soul in God; for it is better to live by faith in things to come, than to live by sense, which dwells only upon present things. Our lot is appointed. We have what pleases God, and let that please us. The greatest possessions and honours cannot set us above the common events of human life. Seeing that the things men pursue on earth increase vanities, what is man the better for his worldly devices? Our life upon earth is to be reckoned by days. It is fleeting and uncertain, and with little in it to be fond of, or to be depended on. Let us return to God, trust in his mercy through Jesus Christ, and submit to his will. Then soon shall we glide through this vexatious world, and find ourselves in that happy place, where there is fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore.
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