Compare Translations for Ecclesiastes 4:16

Ecclesiastes 4:16 ASV
There was no end of all the people, even of all them over whom he was: yet they that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 BBE
There was no end of all the people, of all those whose head he was, but they who come later will have no delight in him. This again is to no purpose and desire for wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 CEB
There was no counting the number of people he ruled, but those who came later aren't happy with him. This too is pointless and a chasing after wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 CJB
and that no limit was set for the number of his subjects. Nevertheless, those who come afterwards will not regard him highly. This too is certainly pointless and feeding on wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 RHE
The number of the people, of all that were before him is infinite: and they that shall come afterwards, shall not rejoice in him: but this also is vanity, and vexation of spirit.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 ESV
There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 GW
There was no end to all those people, everyone whom he led. But those who will come later will not be happy with the successor. Even this is pointless. [It's like] trying to catch the wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 GNT
There may be no limit to the number of people a king rules; when he is gone, no one will be grateful for what he has done. It is useless. It is like chasing the wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 HNV
There was no end of all the people, even of all them over whom he was -- yet those who come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a chasing after wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 CSB
There is no limit to all the people who were before them, yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 KJV
There is no end of all the people, even of all that have been before them: they also that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and vexation of spirit.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 LEB
There is no end to all the people, to all who were before him. Yet the later generation will not rejoice in him, for this also [is] vanity and chasing wind!
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 NAS
There is no end to all the people, to all who were before them, and even the ones who will come later will not be happy with him, for this too is vanity and striving after wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 NCV
Many followed him at first, but later, they did not like him, either. So fame and power are useless, like chasing the wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 NIRV
At first, all of the people served him when he became king. But those who came later weren't pleased with the way he was ruling. That doesn't have any meaning either. It's like chasing the wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 NIV
There was no end to all the people who were before them. But those who came later were not pleased with the successor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 NKJV
There was no end of all the people over whom he was made king; Yet those who come afterward will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and grasping for the wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 NLT
He might become the leader of millions and be very popular. But then the next generation grows up and rejects him! So again, it is all meaningless, like chasing the wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 NRS
there was no end to all those people whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a chasing after wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 RSV
there 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.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 DBY
[There is] no end of all the people, of all that stood before them; those however that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after the wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 MSG
Even so, the excitement died quickly, the throngs of people soon lost interest. Can't you see it's only smoke? And spitting into the wind?
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 WBT
[There is] no end of all the people, [even] of all that have been before them: they also that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also [is] vanity and vexation of spirit.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 TMB
There is no end of all the people, even of all that have been before them; they also who came after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and vexation of spirit.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 TNIV
There was no end to all the people who were before them. But those who came later were not pleased with the successor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 WEB
There was no end of all the people, even of all them over whom he was -- yet those who come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a chasing after wind.
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 WYC
The number of people, of all that were before him, is great without measure, and they that shall come afterward, shall not be glad in him; but also this is vanity and torment of the spirit. (The number of all the people, who be under him, is great without measure, and yet they who shall come after, shall not be grateful to him; but this is also empty and futile, like chasing the wind.)
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Ecclesiastes 4:16 YLT
there is no end to all the people, to all who were before them; also, the latter rejoice not in him. Surely this also is vanity and vexation of spirit.
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Ecclesiastes 4 Commentary - Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Concise)

Chapter 4

Miseries from oppression. (1-3) troubles from envy. (4-6) The folly of covetousness. (7,8) The advantages of mutual assistance. (9-12) the changes of royalty. (13-16)

Verses 1-3 It grieved Solomon to see might prevail against right. Wherever we turn, we see melancholy proofs of the wickedness and misery of mankind, who try to create trouble to themselves and to each other. Being thus hardly used, men are tempted to hate and despise life. But a good man, though badly off while in this world, cannot have cause to wish he had never been born, since he is glorifying the Lord, even in the fires, and will be happy at last, for ever happy. Ungodly men have most cause to wish the continuance of life with all its vexations, as a far more miserable condition awaits them if they die in their sins. If human and worldly things were our chief good, not to exist would be preferable to life, considering the various oppressions here below.

Verses 4-6 Solomon notices the sources of trouble peculiar to well-doers, and includes all who labour with diligence, and whose efforts are crowned with success. They often become great and prosperous, but this excites envy and opposition. Others, seeing the vexations of an active course, foolishly expect more satisfaction in sloth and idleness. But idleness is a sin that is its own punishment. Let us by honest industry lay hold on the handful, that we may not want necessaries, but not grasp at both hands full, which would only create vexation of spirit. Moderate pains and gains do best.

Verses 7-8 Frequently, the more men have, the more they would have; and on this they are so intent, that they get no enjoyment from what they have. Selfishness is the cause of this evil. A selfish man cares for nobody; there is none to take care of but himself, yet he will scarcely allow necessary rest to himself, and the people he employs. He never thinks he has enough. He has enough for his calling, for his family, but he has not enough for his eyes. Many are so set upon the world, that in pursuit of it they bereave themselves, not only of the favour of God and eternal life, but of the pleasures of this life. The distant relations or strangers who inherit such a man's wealth, never thank him. Covetousness gathers strength by time and habit; men tottering on the brink of the grave, grow more grasping and griping. Alas, and how often do we see men professing to be followers of Him, who, "though he was rich, for our sakes became poor," anxiously scraping money together and holding it fast, excusing themselves by common-place talking about the necessity of care, and the danger of extravagance!

Verses 9-12 Surely he has more satisfaction in life, who labours hard to maintain those he loves, than the miser has in his toil. In all things union tends to success and safety, but above all, the union of Christians. They assist each other by encouragement, or friendly reproof. They warm each other's hearts while they converse together of the love of Christ, or join in singing his praises. Then let us improve our opportunities of Christian fellowship. In these things all is not vanity, though there will be some alloy as long as we are under the sun. Where two are closely joined in holy love and fellowship, Christ will by his Spirit come to them; then there is a threefold cord.

Verses 13-16 People are never long easy and satisfied; they are fond of changes. This is no new thing. Princes see themselves slighted by those they have studied to oblige; this is vanity and vexation of spirit. But the willing servants of the Lord Jesus, our King, rejoice in him alone, and they will love Him more and more to all eternity.

Ecclesiastes 4 Commentary - Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

CHAPTER 4

Ecclesiastes 4:1-16 .

1. returned--namely, to the thought set forth ( Ecclesiastes 3:16 , Job 35:9 ).
power--MAURER, not so well, "violence."
no comforter--twice said to express continued suffering without any to give comfort ( Isaiah 53:7 ).

2. A profane sentiment if severed from its connection; but just in its bearing on Solomon's scope. If religion were not taken into account ( Ecclesiastes 3:17 Ecclesiastes 3:19 ), to die as soon as possible would be desirable, so as not to suffer or witness "oppressions"; and still more so, not to be born at all ( Ecclesiastes 7:1 ). Job ( Job 3:12 , 21:7 ), David ( Psalms 73:3 , &c.), Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 12:1 ), Habakkuk ( Habakkuk 1:13 ), all passed through the same perplexity, until they went into the sanctuary, and looked beyond the present to the "judgment" ( Psalms 73:17 , Habakkuk 2:20 , Habakkuk 3:17 Habakkuk 3:18 ). Then they saw the need of delay, before completely punishing the wicked, to give space for repentance, or else for accumulation of wrath ( Romans 2:15 ); and before completely rewarding the godly, to give room for faith and perseverance in tribulation ( Psalms 92:7-12 ). Earnests, however, are often even now given, by partial judgments of the future, to assure us, in spite of difficulties, that God governs the earth.

3. not seen--nor experienced.

4. right--rather, "prosperous" which men so much covet, is the very source of provoking oppression ( Ecclesiastes 4:1 ) and "envy," so far is it from constituting the chief good.

5. Still the
fool, the wicked oppressor who "folds his hands together" ( Proverbs 6:10 , 24:33 ), in idleness, living on the means he wrongfully wrests from others, is not to be envied even in this life; for such a one
eateth his own flesh--that is, is a self-tormentor, never satisfied, his spirit preying on itself ( Isaiah 9:20 , 49:26 ).

6. Hebrew; "One open hand (palm) full of quietness, than both closed hands full of travail." "Quietness" (mental tranquillity flowing from honest labor), opposed to "eating one's own flesh" ( Ecclesiastes 4:5 ), also opposed to anxious labor to gain ( Ecclesiastes 4:8 , Proverbs 15:16 Proverbs 15:17 , 16:8 ).

7. A vanity described in Ecclesiastes 4:8 .

8. not a second--no partner.
child--"son or brother," put for any heir ( Deuteronomy 25:5-10 ).
eye--( Ecclesiastes 1:8 ). The miser would not be able to give an account of his infatuation.

9. Two--opposed to "one" ( Ecclesiastes 4:8 ). Ties of union, marriage, friendship, religious communion, are better than the selfish solitariness of the miser ( Genesis 2:18 ).
reward--Advantage accrues from their efforts being conjoined. The Talmud says, "A man without a companion is like a left hand without the right.

10. if they fall--if the one or other fall, as may happen to both, namely, into any distress of body, mind, or soul.

The image is taken from man and wife, but applies universally to the warm sympathy derived from social ties. So Christian ties ( Luke 24:32 , Acts 28:15 ).

12. one--enemy.
threefold cord--proverbial for a combination of many--for example, husband, wife, and children ( Proverbs 11:14 ); so Christians ( Luke 10:1 , Colossians 2:2 Colossians 2:19 ). Untwist the cord, and the separate threads are easily "broken."

13. The "threefold cord" ( Ecclesiastes 4:12 ) of social ties suggests the subject of civil government. In this case too, he concludes that kingly power confers no lasting happiness. The "wise" child, though a supposed case of Solomon, answers, in the event foreseen by the Holy Ghost, to Jeroboam, then a poor but valiant youth, once a "servant" of Solomon, and ( 1 Kings 11:26-40 ) appointed by God through the prophet Ahijah to be heir of the kingdom of the ten tribes about to be rent from Rehoboam. The "old and foolish king" answers to Solomon himself, who had lost his wisdom, when, in defiance of two warnings of God ( 1 Kings 3:14 , 9:2-9 ), he forsook God.
will no more be admonished--knows not yet how to take warning (see Margin) God had by Ahijah already intimated the judgment coming on Solomon ( 1 Kings 11:11-13 ).

14. out of prison--Solomon uses this phrase of a supposed case; for example, Joseph raised from a dungeon to be lord of Egypt. His words are at the same time so framed by the Holy Ghost that they answer virtually to Jeroboam, who fled to escape a "prison" and death from Solomon, to Shishak of Egypt ( 1 Kings 11:40 ). This unconscious presaging of his own doom, and that of Rehoboam, constitutes the irony. David's elevation from poverty and exile, under Saul (which may have been before Solomon's mind), had so far their counterpart in that of Jeroboam.
whereas . . . becometh poor--rather, "though he (the youth) was born poor in his kingdom" (in the land where afterwards he was to reign).

15. "I considered all the living," the present generation, in relation to ("with") the "second youth" (the "legitimate successor" of the "old king," as opposed to the "poor youth," the one first spoken of, about to be raised from poverty to a throne), that is, Rehoboam.
in his stead--the old king's.

16. Notwithstanding their now worshipping the rising sun, the heir-apparent, I reflected that "there were no bounds, no stability ( 2 Samuel 15:6 , 20:1 ), no check on the love of innovation, of all that have been before them," that is, the past generation; so
also they that come after--that is, the next generation,
shall not rejoice in him--namely, Rehoboam. The parallel, "shall not rejoice," fixes the sense of "no bounds," no permanent adherence, though now men rejoice in him.