English Standard Version
But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
King James Bible
Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
American Standard Version
yea, better than them both did I esteem him that hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
And I judged him happier than them both, that is not yet born, nor hath seen the evils that are done under the sun.
English Revised Version
yea, better than them both did I esteem him which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
Webster's Bible Translation
Yes, better is he than both they, who hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 4:3 Parallel
CommentaryKeil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
"For the children of men are a chance, and the beast a chance, and they both have once chance: as the death of the one, so that death of the other, and they have all one breath; and there is no advantage to a man over a beast, for all is vain." If in both instances the word is pointed מקרה (lxx), the three-membered sentence would then have the form of an emblematical proverb (as e.g., Proverbs 25:25): "For as the chance of men, so (vav of comparison) the chance of the beast; they have both one chance." מקרה with segol cannot possibly be the connecting form (Luzz.), for in cases such as מע שׂ ם, Isaiah 3:24, the relation of the words is appositional, not genitival. This form מקר, thus found three times, is vindicated by the Targ. (also the Venet.) and by Mss.; Joseph Kimchi remarks that "all three have segol, and are thus forms of the absolutus." The author means that men, like beasts, are in their existence and in their death influenced accidentally, i.e., not of necessity, and are wholly conditioned, not by their own individual energy, but by a power from without - are dependent beings, as Solon (Herod. i. 32) says to Croesus: "Man is altogether συμφορή," i.e., the sport of accident. The first two sentences mean exclusively neither that men (apart from God) are, like beasts, the birth of a blind accident (Hitz.), nor that they are placed under the same law of transitoriness (Elst.); but of men, in the totality of their being, and doing, and suffering, it is first said that they are accidental beings; then, that which separates them from this, that they all, men like beasts, are finally exposed to one, i.e., to the same fate. As is the death of one, so is the death of the other; and they all have one breath, i.e., men and beasts alike die, for this breath of life (חיּים רוּח, which constitutes a beast - as well as a man a חיּה נפשׁ) departs from the body (Psalm 104:29). In זה ... זה (as at Ecclesiastes 6:5; Exodus 14:20, and frequently), להם (mas. as genus potius) is separately referred to men and beasts. With the Mishnic בּמות equals bibl. כּמו (cf. Maaser Sheni, v. 2), the כּמות here used has manifestly nothing to do. The noun מותר, which in the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 14:23; Proverbs 21:5, not elsewhere) occurs in the sense of profit, gain, is here in the Book of Koheleth found as a synon. of יתרון, "preference," advantage which is exclusively peculiar to it. From this, that men and beasts fall under the same law of death, the author concludes that there is no preference of a man to a beast; he doubtless means that in respect of the end man has no superiority; but he expresses himself thus generally because, as the matter presented itself to him, all-absorbing death annulled every distinction. He looks only to the present time, without encumbering himself with the historical account of the matter found in the beginning of the Tra; and he adheres to the external phenomenon, without thinking, with the Psalmist in Psalm 49, that although death is common to man with the beast, yet all men do not therefore die as the beast does. That the beast dies because it must, but that in the midst of this necessity of nature man can maintain his freedom, is for him out of view. הבל הכּל, the ματαιότης, which at last falls to man as well as to the beast, throws its long dark shadows across his mind, and wholly shrouds it.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!'
"Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire?
So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.
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.
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ESV Text Edition: 2016. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.