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Ecclesiastes 4:4 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Then I saw all labor and every skilful work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This [is] also vanity and vexation of spirit.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is [the result of] rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— Again, I considered all labor, and every right work, that for this a man is envied by his neighbor. This [is] also vanity and vexation of spirit.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— And I saw all labour, and all success of work, that it is man's jealousy of his neighbour. This also is vanity and pursuit of the wind.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Then saw, I, all the toil and all the skill of the work, that, for this, a man was envied of his neighbour,—even this, was vanity, and a feeding on wind.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— And I have seen all the labour, and all the benefit of the work, because for it a man is the envy of his neighbour. Even this [is] vanity and vexation of spirit.
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— Again I considered all the labours of men, and I remarked that their industries are exposed to the envy of their neighbour: so in this also there is vanity, and fruitless care.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Againe I considered all trauaile, and euery right worke, that for this a man is enuied of his neighbour: this [is] also vanitie, and vexation of spirit.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— And I saw all labour, and all the diligent work, that this is a man's envy from his neighbour. This is also vanity and waywardness of spirit.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This [is] also vanity and vexation of spirit.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Again, I x589
(0589) Complement
Contracted from H0595; I.
considered 7200
{7200} Prime
A primitive root; to see, literally or figuratively (in numerous applications, direct and implied, transitively, intransitively and causatively).
<8804> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Perfect (See H8816)
Count - 12562
(0853) Complement
Apparently contracted from H0226 in the demonstrative sense of entity; properly self (but generally used to point out more definitely the object of a verb or preposition, even or namely).
all x3605
(3605) Complement
From H3634; properly the whole; hence all, any or every (in the singular only, but often in a plural sense).
travail, 5999
{5999} Prime
From H5998; toil, that is, wearing effort; hence worry, whether of body or mind.
and every x3605
(3605) Complement
From H3634; properly the whole; hence all, any or every (in the singular only, but often in a plural sense).
right 3788
{3788} Prime
From H3787; success, advantage.
work, 4639
{4639} Prime
From H6213; an action (good or bad); generally a transaction; abstractly activity; by implication a product (specifically a poem) or (generally) property.
that x3588
(3588) Complement
A primitive particle (the full form of the prepositional prefix) indicating causal relations of all kinds, antecedent or consequent; (by implication) very widely used as a relative conjugation or adverb; often largely modified by other particles annexed.
for this x1931
(1931) Complement
The second form is the feminine beyond the Pentateuch; a primitive word, the third person pronoun singular, he (she or it); only expressed when emphatic or without a verb; also (intensively) self, or (especially with the article) the same; sometimes (as demonstrative) this or that; occasionally (instead of copula) as or are.
a man 376
{0376} Prime
Contracted for H0582 (or perhaps rather from an unused root meaning to be extant); a man as an individual or a male person; often used as an adjunct to a more definite term (and in such cases frequently not expressed in translation.).
is envied 7068
{7068} Prime
From H7065; jealousy or envy.
of his neighbour. 7453
{7453} Prime
From H7462; an associate (more or less close).
(4480) Complement
For H4482; properly a part of; hence (prepositionally), from or out of in many senses.
This x2088
(2088) Complement
A primitive word; the masculine demonstrative pronoun, this or that.
[is] also x1571
(1571) Complement
By contraction from an unused root meaning to gather; properly assemblage; used only adverbially also, even, yea, though; often repeated as correlation both... and.
vanity 1892
{1892} Prime
From H1891; emptiness or vanity; figuratively something transitory and unsatisfactory; often used as an adverb.
and vexation 7469
{7469} Prime
Probably from H7462; a feeding upon, that is, grasping after.
of spirit. 7307
{7307} Prime
From H7306; wind; by resemblance breath, that is, a sensible (or even violent) exhalation; figuratively life, anger, unsubstantiality; by extension a region of the sky; by resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being (including its expression and functions).
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Ecclesiastes 4:4

_ _ right — rather, “prosperous” (see on Ecclesiastes 2:21). Prosperity, 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.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Ecclesiastes 4:4-6

_ _ Here Solomon returns to the observation and consideration of the vanity and vexation of spirit that attend the business of this world, which he had spoken of before, Ecclesiastes 2:11.

_ _ I. If a man be acute, and dexterous, and successful in his business, he gets the ill-will of his neighbours, Ecclesiastes 4:4. Though he takes a great deal of pains, and goes through all travail, does not get his estate easily, but it costs him a great deal of hard labour, nor does he get it dishonestly, he wrongs no man, defrauds no man, but by every right work, by applying himself to his own proper business, and managing it by all the rules of equity and fair dealing, yet for this he is envied of his neighbour, and the more for the reputation he has got by his honesty. This shows, 1. What little conscience most men have, that they will bear a grudge to a neighbour, give him an ill word and do him an ill turn, only because he is more ingenious and industrious than themselves, and has more of the blessing of heaven. Cain envied Abel, Esau Jacob, and Saul David, and all for their right works. This is downright diabolism. 2. What little comfort wise and useful men must expect to have in this world. Let them behave themselves ever so cautiously, they cannot escape being envied; and who can stand before envy? Proverbs 27:4. Those that excel in virtue will always be an eye-sore to those that exceed in vice, which should not discourage us from any right work, but drive us to expect the praise of it, not from men, but from God, and not to count upon satisfaction and happiness in the creature; for, if right works prove vanity and vexation of spirit, no works under the sun can prove otherwise. But for every right work a man shall be accepted of his God, and then he needs not mind though he be envied of his neighbour, only it may make him love the world the less.

_ _ II. If a man be stupid, and dull, and blundering in his business, he does ill for himself (Ecclesiastes 4:5): The fool that goes about his work as if his hands were muffled and folded together, that does every thing awkwardly, the sluggard (for he is a fool) that loves his ease and folds his hands together to keep them warm, because they refuse to labour, he eats his own flesh, is a cannibal to himself, brings himself into such a poor condition that he has nothing to eat but his own flesh, into such a desperate condition that he is ready to eat his own flesh for vexation. He has a dog's life — hunger and ease. Because he sees active men that thrive in the world envied, he runs into the other extreme; and, lest he should be envied for his right works, he does every thing wrong, and does not deserve to be pitied. Note, Idleness is a sin that is its own punishment. The following words (Ecclesiastes 4:6), Better is a handful with quietness than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit, may be taken either, 1. As the sluggard's argument for the excuse of himself in his idleness. He folds his hands together, and abuses and misapplies a good truth for his justification, as if, because a little with quietness is better than abundance with strife, therefore a little with idleness is better than abundance with honest labour: thus wise in his own conceit is he, Proverbs 26:16. But, 2. I rather take it as Solomon's advice to keep the mean between that travail which will make a man envied and that slothfulness which will make a man eat his own flesh. Let us by honest industry lay hold on the handful, that we may not want necessaries, but not grasp at both the hands full, which will but create us vexation of spirit. Moderate pains and moderate gains will do best. A man may have but a handful of the world, and yet may enjoy it and himself with a great deal of quietness, with content of mind, peace of conscience, and the love and good-will of his neighbours, while many that have both their hands full, have more than heart could wish, have a great deal of travail and vexation with it. Those that cannot live on a little, it is to be feared, would not live as they should if they had ever so much.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Ecclesiastes 4:4

Right work — All the worthy designs of virtuous men. Envied — Instead of honour, he meets with envy and obloquy.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Ecclesiastes 4:4

Again, I considered all labour, and every (d) right work, that for this a man is envied by his neighbour. This [is] also vanity and vexation of spirit.

(d) The more perfect that the work is, the more it is envied by the wicked.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
etc. Heb. all the rightness of work, that this is the envy of man from his neighbour,
Genesis 4:4-8 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: ... And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
Genesis 37:2-11 These [are] the generations of Jacob. Joseph, [being] seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad [was] with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report. ... And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.
1 Samuel 18:8-9 And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed [but] thousands: and [what] can he have more but the kingdom? ... And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.
1 Samuel 18:14-16 And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD [was] with him. ... But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.
1 Samuel 18:29-30 And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David's enemy continually. ... Then the princes of the Philistines went forth: and it came to pass, after they went forth, [that] David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by.
Proverbs 27:4 Wrath [is] cruel, and anger [is] outrageous; but who [is] able to stand before envy?
Matthew 27:18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
Acts 7:9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,
James 4:5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
1 John 3:12 Not as Cain, [who] was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.

This is:

Ecclesiastes 4:16 [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.
Ecclesiastes 1:14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all [is] vanity and vexation of spirit.
Ecclesiastes 2:21 For there is a man whose labour [is] in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it [for] his portion. This also [is] vanity and a great evil.
Ecclesiastes 2:26 For [God] giveth to a man that [is] good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to [him that is] good before God. This also [is] vanity and vexation of spirit.
Ecclesiastes 6:9 Better [is] the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this [is] also vanity and vexation of spirit.
Ecclesiastes 6:11 Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what [is] man the better?
Genesis 37:4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.
Genesis 37:11 And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.
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Gn 4:4; 37:2, 4, 11. 1S 18:8, 14, 29. Pv 27:4. Ec 1:14; 2:21, 26; 4:16; 6:9, 11. Mt 27:18. Ac 7:9. Jm 4:5. 1Jn 3:12.

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