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1Again I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. 2And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive; 3but better than both is he who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.

4Then 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.

5The fool folds his hands, and eats his own flesh.

6Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.

7Again, I saw vanity under the sun: 8a person who has no one, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.

9Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up. 11Again, if two lie together, they are warm; but how can one be warm alone? 12And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

13Better is a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king, who will no longer take advice, 14even though he had gone from prison to the throne or in his own kingdom had been born poor. 15I saw all the living who move about under the sun, as well as that youth, who was to stand in his place; 16there was no end of all the people; he was over all of them. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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