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Ecclesiastes 5:17-19 New English Translation (NET Bible)

17 Surely, he ate in darkness every day of his life,[a]
and he suffered greatly with sickness and anger.

Enjoy the Fruit of Your Labor

18 I have seen personally what is the only beneficial and appropriate course of action for people:[b]
to eat and drink,[c] and find enjoyment in all their[d] hard work[e] on earth[f]
during the few days of their life that God has given them,
for this is their reward.[g]
19 To every man whom God has given wealth and possessions,
he has also given him the ability[h]
to eat from them, to receive his reward, and to find enjoyment in his toil;
these things[i] are the gift of God.


  1. Ecclesiastes 5:17 tn Heb “all his days.” The phrase “of his life” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.
  2. Ecclesiastes 5:18 tn Heb “Behold, that which I have seen, I, good which is beautiful.” The phrase “for people” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.
  3. Ecclesiastes 5:18 sn The phrase “to eat and to drink” is a common idiom in Ecclesiastes for a person enjoying the fruit of his labor (e.g., 2:24; 3:13).
  4. Ecclesiastes 5:18 tn Heb “his,” and three times later in the verse.
  5. Ecclesiastes 5:18 tn Heb “the toil which one toils.”
  6. Ecclesiastes 5:18 tn Heb “under the sun.”
  7. Ecclesiastes 5:18 tn The term חֵלֶק (kheleq, “lot”) has a wide range of meanings: (1) “share of spoils” (Gen 14:24; Num 31:36; 1 Sam 30:24), (2) “portion of food” (Lev 6:10; Deut 18:8; Hab 1:16), (3) “portion [or tract] of land” (Deut 10:9; 12:12; Josh 19:9), (4) “portion” or “possession” (Num 18:20; Deut 32:9), (5) “inheritance” (2 Kgs 9:10; Amos 7:4), (6) “portion” or “award” (Job 20:29; 27:13; 31:2; Isa 17:14) or “profit; reward” (Eccl 2:10, 21; 3:22; 5:17-18; 9:6, 9); see HALOT 323 s.v. II חֵלֶק; BDB 324 s.v. חֵלֶק. Throughout Ecclesiastes, the term is used in reference to man’s temporal profit from his labor, his reward from God (e.g., Eccl 3:22; 9:9).
  8. Ecclesiastes 5:19 tn The syntax of this verse is difficult. The best approach is to view הִשְׁלִיטוֹ (hishlito, “he has given him the ability”) as governing the three following infinitives: לֶאֱכֹל (leʾekhol, “to eat”), וְלָשֵׂאת (velaseʾt, “and to lift” = “to accept [or receive]”), and וְלִשְׂמֹחַ (velismoakh, “and to rejoice”). This statement parallels 2:24-26 which states that no one can find enjoyment in life unless God gives him the ability to do so.
  9. Ecclesiastes 5:19 tn Heb “this.” The feminine singular demonstrative pronoun זֹה (zoh, “this”) refers back to all that preceded it in the verse (e.g., GKC 440-41 §135.p), that is, the ability to enjoy the fruit of one’s labor is the gift of God (e.g., Eccl 2:24-26). The phrase “these things” is used in the translation for clarity.
New English Translation (NET)

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