Qohlat (Ecclesiastes)

Qohlat 4

1. And I returned and saw old oppressions that were done under the sun, behold, the tears of the oppressed; and they have no consolation from the hand of their oppressors, neither the strength, nor the assistance.
2. And I praised the dead who seemed greater in death, more than the living, who are still alive until now.
3. However, better than these two is the one, who is yet to be, because he has yet to see the evil works that he has done under the sun.
4. And I saw that all the works and all the prosperity of a servant are the result of a man's jealousy toward his companion, and this too is vanity and the turmoil of spirit.
5. The fool wrings*his hands and eats his own flesh.*
6. It is sufficient to have [something manageable] in the palm of the hand, than a handful of toil and the turmoil of the spirit.
7. And I turned around and I saw the vanity under the sun.
8. There is one and there is no second, and a son and he has no brother, and there is no increasing his works, and also his eye is not satisfied with all the wealth. And for whom shall I work so as to lose myself on account of the blessings? And this too is vanity and an evil travail.
9. Two are better than one, as they make* a good wage for their work.
10. If they fall, the one will raise his companion; woe to him who is alone, if he falls there is no one to raise him.
11. And if two cohabitate,* they stay warm. And how is one to stay warm?
12. And if one gets strong, both of them can stand against him, and a threefold line cannot easily be cut down.
13. The youth who is poor and wise is better off than the king who is old and foolish, who does not know his own admonitions again.
14. Because he comes out from prison a king, because even in his kingdom he shall be born poor.
15. I saw all the living who walk under the sun, together with the second youth who rises in his place.
16. And there is no end to all the people, to all those who stand before him, and nor shall the remnant be overjoyed with him, because this too is vanity and the turmoil of spirit.

Translated by Victor Alexander ©2013

Footnotes
* 4:5.1 Lit. Ar. id.: "Folds."
*4:5.2 Lit. Ar. idiomatic expression: "Loses weight" or "worries needlessly."
*4:9 Lit. Ar. id.: "Have."
*4:11 Lit. Ar. retained: "Form a family."

May. 13, 2013

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