New Living Translation
This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, "Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?" It is all so meaningless and depressing.
King James Bible
There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.
Darby Bible Translation
There is one alone and without a second; also he hath neither son nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour, neither is his eye satisfied with riches, and he saith not, For whom then am I labouring, and depriving my soul of good? This also is vanity and a grievous occupation.
World English Bible
There is one who is alone, and he has neither son nor brother. There is no end to all of his labor, neither are his eyes satisfied with wealth. "For whom then, do I labor, and deprive my soul of enjoyment?" This also is vanity. Yes, it is a miserable business.
Young's Literal Translation
There is one, and there is not a second; even son or brother he hath not, and there is no end to all his labour! His eye also is not satisfied with riches, and he saith not, 'For whom am I labouring and bereaving my soul of good?' This also is vanity, it is a sad travail.
Ecclesiastes 4:8 Parallel
CommentaryWesley's Notes on the Bible
4:8 Alone - Who has none but himself to care for. Brother - To whom he may leave his vast estate. Yet - He lives in perpetual restlessness and toil. For whom - Having no kindred to enjoy it. And bereave - Deny myself those comforts and conveniences which God hath allowed me? A sore travel - A dreadful judgment, as well as a great sin.
It is not surprising that the book of Ecclesiastes had a struggle to maintain its place in the canon, and it was probably only its reputed Solomonic authorship and the last two verses of the book that permanently secured its position at the synod of Jamnia in 90 A.D. The Jewish scholars of the first century A.D. were struck by the manner in which it contradicted itself: e.g., "I praised the dead more than the living," iv. 2, "A living dog is better than a dead lion," ix. 4; but they were still more …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
Just as Death and Destruction are never satisfied, so human desire is never satisfied.
Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.
I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race.
Some people work wisely with knowledge and skill, then must leave the fruit of their efforts to someone who hasn't worked for it. This, too, is meaningless, a great tragedy.
I observed yet another example of something meaningless under the sun.
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.
Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!
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