December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Again I considered all the oppressions that take place under the sun: the tears of the victims with none to comfort them! From the hand of their oppressors comes violence, and there is none to comfort them!
- And those now dead, I declared more fortunate in death than are the living to be still alive.
- And better off than both is the yet unborn, who has not seen the wicked work that is done under the sun.
- Then I saw that all toil and skillful work is the rivalry of one man for another. This also is vanity and a chase after wind.
- 1 "The fool folds his arms and consumes his own flesh"--
- Better is one handful with tranquility than two with toil and a chase after wind!
- Again I found this vanity under the sun:
- a solitary man with no companion; with neither son nor brother. Yet there is no end to all his toil, and riches do not satisfy his greed. "For whom do I toil and deprive myself of good things?" This also is vanity and a worthless task.
- Two are better than one: they get a good wage for their labor.
- If the one falls, the other will lift up his companion. Woe to the solitary man! For if he should fall, he has no one to lift him up.
- So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. How can one alone keep warm?
- Where a lone man may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.
- Better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows caution;
- 2 for from a prison house one comes forth to rule, since even in his royalty he was poor at birth.
- 3 Then I saw all those who are to live and move about under the sun with the heir apparent who will succeed to his place.
- There is no end to all these people, to all over whom he takes precedence; yet the later generations will not applaud him. This also is vanity and a chase after wind.
- 4 Guard your step when you go to the house of God. Let your approach be obedience, rather than the fools' offering of sacrifice; for they know not how to keep from doing evil.
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1  Consumes his own flesh: refuses to work for the necessities of life and consequently suffers hunger and impairs his bodily health.
2  Prison house: probably his mother's womb, from which the king issues without possessions. Cf Eccl 5:14.
3  The king is no sooner dead than the people transfer their allegiance to his successor.
4  The fools' . . . sacrifice: unacceptable to God because of their disobedience; cf 1 Sam 15:22; Hosea 6:6.
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