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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Ecclesiastes 6:3 Parallel
CommentaryKeil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
"Also all his life long he eateth in darkness and grieveth himself much, and oh for his sorrow and hatred!" We might place Ecclesiastes 5:16 under the regimen of the שׁ of שׁיע of Ecclesiastes 5:15; but the Heb. style prefers the self-dependent form of sentences to that which is governed. The expression Ecclesiastes 5:16 has something strange. This strangeness disappears if, with Ewald and Heiligst., after the lxx and Jerome, for יאכל we read ואכל: καὶ ἐν πένθει; Bttch. prefers ואפל, "and in darkness." Or also, if we read ילך for יאכל; thus the Midrash here, and several codd. by Kennicott; but the Targ., Syr., and Masora read יאכל. Hitzig gets rid of that which is strange in this passage by taking כּל־ימיו as accus. of the obj., not of the time: all his days, his whole life he consumes in darkness; but in Heb. as in Lat. we say: consumere dies vitae, Job 21:13; Job 36:11, but not comedere; and why should the expression, "to eat in darkness," not be a figurative expression for a faithless, gloomy life, as elsewhere "to sit in darkness" (Micah 7:8), and "to walk in darkness"? It is meant that all his life long he ate אונים לחם, the bread of sorrow, or לחץ לחם, prison fare; he did not allow himself pleasant table comforts in a room comfortably or splendidly lighted, for it is unnecessary to understand חשׁך subjectively and figuratively (Hitz., Zck.).
In 16b the traditional punctuation is וכעס.
(Note: Thus in correct texts, in H. with the note: כ מלרע, viz., here and at Psalm 112:10, only there ע has, according to tradition, the Kametz. Cf. Mas. fin. 52b, and Baer's Ed. of Psalter, under Psalm 112:10.)
The perf. ruled by the preceding fut. is syntactically correct, and the verb כּעס is common with the author, Ecclesiastes 7:9. Hitzig regards the text as corrupt, and reads כּחליו and כּעס, and explains: and (he consumes or swallows) much grief in his, etc.; the phrase, "to eat sorrow," may be allowed (cf. Proverbs 26:6, cf. Job 15:16); but יאכל, as the representative of two so bold and essentially different metaphors, would be in point of style in bad taste. If the text is corrupt, it may be more easily rectified by reading וק לו וחלי הרבה וכּעס: and grief in abundance, and sorrow has he, and wrath. We merely suggest this. Ewald, Burger, and Bttch. read only וכעס הרבה וחלי; but לו is not to be dispensed with, and can easily be reduced to a mere vav. Elster retains וכעס, and reads, like Hitzig, בחליו: he grieves himself much in his sorrow and wrath; but in that case the word וקצפו was to be expected; also in this way the ideas do not psychologically accord with each other. However the text is taken, we must interpret וחליו וקצף as an exclamation, like הף, Isaiah 29:16; תּף, Jeremiah 49:16; Ewald, 328a, as we have done above. That וח of itself is a subst. clause equals וחלי לו is untenable; the rendering of the noun as forming a clause, spoken of under Ecclesiastes 2:21, is of a different character.
(Note: Rashi regards וחליו as a form like חיתו. This o everywhere appears only in a gen. connection.)
He who by his labour and care aims at becoming rich, will not only lay upon himself unnecessary privations, but also have many sorrows; for many of his plans fail, and the greater success of others awakens his envy, and neither he himself nor others satisfy him; he is morbidly disposed, and as he is diseased in mind, so also in body, and his constantly increasing dissatisfaction becomes at last קצף, he grumbles at himself, at God, and all the world. From observing such persons, Paul says of them (1 Timothy 6:6.): "They have pierced themselves through (transfoderunt) with many sorrows."
In view of these great evils, with which the possession of riches also is connected: of their deceitful instability, and their merely belonging to this present life, Koheleth returns to his ceterum censeo.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child, as infants who never see the light?
Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime, like the stillborn child who never sees the sun.
But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered.
You will not be joined with them in burial, because you have destroyed your land, you have slain your people. "May the offspring of evildoers nevermore be named!
And they shall be spread before the sun and the moon and all the host of heaven, which they have loved and served, which they have gone after, and which they have sought and worshiped. And they shall not be gathered or buried. They shall be as dung on the surface of the ground.
With the burial of a donkey he shall be buried, dragged and dumped beyond the gates of Jerusalem."
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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.