New English Translation
Not Everyone Enjoys Life
1 Here is another misfortune that I have seen on earth, and it weighs heavily on people:
2 God gives a man riches, property, and wealth so that he lacks nothing that his heart desires, yet God does not enable him to enjoy the fruit of his labor - instead, someone else enjoys it! This is fruitless and a grave misfortune.
3 Even if a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years - even if he lives a long, long time, but cannot enjoy his prosperity - even if he were to live forever - I would say, "A stillborn child is better off than he is!"
4 Though the stillborn child came into the world for no reason and departed into darkness, though its name is shrouded in darkness,
5 though it never saw the light of day nor knew anything, yet it has more rest than that man -
6 if he should live a thousand years twice, yet does not enjoy his prosperity. For both of them die!
7 All of man's labor is for nothing more than to fill his stomach - yet his appetite is never satisfied!
8 So what advantage does a wise man have over a fool? And what advantage does a pauper gain by knowing how to survive?
9 It is better to be content with what the eyes can see than for one's heart always to crave more. This continual longing is futile - like chasing the wind.
The Futile Way Life Works
10 Whatever has happened was foreordained, and what happens to a person was also foreknown. It is useless for him to argue with God about his fate because God is more powerful than he is.
11 The more one argues with words, the less he accomplishes. How does that benefit him?
12 For no one knows what is best for a person during his life - during the few days of his fleeting life - for they pass away like a shadow. Nor can anyone tell him what the future will hold for him on earth.
King James Version
1 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men:
2 A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease.
3 ¶ If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he.
4 For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness.
5 Moreover he hath not seen the sun, nor known any thing: this hath more rest than the other.
6 ¶ Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet hath he seen no good: do not all go to one place?
7 All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.
8 For what hath the wise more than the fool? what hath the poor, that knoweth to walk before the living?
9 ¶ Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this is also vanity and vexation of spirit.
10 That which hath been is named already, and it is known that it is man: neither may he contend with him that is mightier than he.
11 ¶ Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better?
12 For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?