Ecclesiastes 5:12

12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep.

Read Ecclesiastes 5:12 Using Other Translations

The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.
Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.
People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep.

What does Ecclesiastes 5:12 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Ecclesiastes 5:12

The sleep of a labouring man [is] sweet, whether he eat
little or much
Or "of a servant" F9, who enjoys sleep equally as a king; a tiller of the ground, as Jarchi; who also interprets it of one that serves the Lord, as likewise the Targum; a beloved one of his, to whom he gives sleep, ( Psalms 127:2 ) . A refreshing sleep is always reckoned a great mercy and blessing, and which labouring men enjoy with sweetness F11; for if they have but little to eat at supper, yet coming weary from their work, sleep is easily brought on when they lie down, and sound sleep they have, and rise in the morning lively and active, and fit for business; or, if they eat more plentifully, yet through their labour they have a good digestion, and their sleep is not hindered: so that should it be answered to the above question, what has the master more than the servant, though he eats and drinks more freely, and of the best, and lives voluptuously? yet it may be replied, that, in the business of sleep, the labouring man has the preference to him; which must be owned to be a great blessing of life, and is often interrupted by excessive eating and drinking; but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep;
either the abundance of food which he eats, which loads his stomach, and fills his head with vapours, and makes him restless, so that he can get no sleep, or what he does get is very uncomfortable: or the abundance of his riches fills him with cares, what he shall do with them, and how to keep and increase them; and with fears, lest thieves should break in and take them away from him, so that he cannot sleep quietly F12. The Targum is,

``sweet is the sleep of a man that serves the Lord of the world with a perfect heart; and he shall have rest in the house of his grave, whether he lives a few years or more, &c;''
and much to the same purpose Jarchi; and who says, it is thus interpreted in an ancient book of theirs, called Tanchuma.

F9 (dbeh) (tou doulou) , Sept. "servi", Arab. "i.e. agricolae", Drusius, Rambachius; "qui par regi famuloque venis", Senec. Hercul. Fur. v. 1073.
F11 "Somnus agrestium lenis" Horat. Carmin. l. 3. Ode 1. v. 21, 22.
F12 "Ne noctu, nec diu quietus unquam eam", Plauti Aulularia, Act. 1. Sc. 1. v. 23. "Aurea rumpunt tecta quietem", Senec. Hercul. Oet. v. 646.
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