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Ecclesiastes 6:1-2 New English Translation (NET Bible)

Not Everyone Enjoys Life

Here is[a] another misfortune[b] that I have seen on earth,[c]
and it weighs heavily[d] on people:[e]
God gives a man riches, property, and wealth
so that he lacks nothing that his heart[f] desires,[g]
yet God does not enable[h] him to enjoy[i] the fruit of his labor[j]
instead, someone else[k] enjoys[l] it![m]
This is fruitless and a grave misfortune.[n]


  1. Ecclesiastes 6:1 tn The term יֵשׁ (yesh, “there is”) is often used in aphorisms to assert the existence of a particular situation that occurs sometimes. It may indicate that the situation is not the rule but that it does occur on occasion, and may be nuanced “sometimes” (Prov 11:24; 13:7, 23; 14:12; 16:25; 18:24; 20:15; Eccl 2:21; 4:8; 5:12; 6:1; 7:15 [2x]; 8:14 [3x]).
  2. Ecclesiastes 6:1 tn The noun רָעָה (raʿah, “evil”) probably means “misfortune” (HALOT 1263 s.v. רָעָה 4) or “injustice, wrong” (HALOT 1262 s.v. רָעָה 2.b); see, e.g., Eccl 2:17; 5:12, 15; 6:1; 10:5.
  3. Ecclesiastes 6:1 tn Heb “under the sun.”
  4. Ecclesiastes 6:1 tn The word “weighs” does not appear in Hebrew, but is added in the translation for smoothness.
  5. Ecclesiastes 6:1 tn Heb “it is great upon men.” The phrase וְרַבָּה הִיא עַל־הָאָדָם (verabbah hiʾ ʿal-haʾadam) is taken in two basic ways: (1) commonality: “it is common among men” (KJV, MLB), “it is prevalent among men” (NASB), “that is frequent among men” (Douay). (2) oppressiveness: “it lies heavy upon men” (RSV, NRSV), “it weighs heavily upon men” (NEB, NAB, NIV), “it presses heavily on men” (Moffatt), “it is heavy upon men” (ASV), and “a grave one it is for man” (NJPS). The preposition עַל (ʿal, “upon”) argues against the first in favor of the second; the notion of commonality would be denoted by the preposition ב (bet, “among”). The singular noun אָדָם (ʾadam) is used as a collective, denoting “men.” The article on הָאָדָם (haʾadam) is used in a generic sense referring to humankind as a whole; the generic article is often used with a collective singular (IBHS 244 §13.5.1f).
  6. Ecclesiastes 6:2 tn Heb “his appetite.”
  7. Ecclesiastes 6:2 tn Heb “There is no lack in respect to his appetite”; or “his desire lacks nothing.”
  8. Ecclesiastes 6:2 tn The verb שָׁלַט (shalat) in the Qal stem means “to domineer; to dominate; to lord it over; to be master of” and in the Hiphil stem “to give power to” (BDB 1020 s.v. שָׁלַט) and “to grant” (HALOT 1522 s.v. שׁלט). God must grant a person the ability to enjoy the fruit of his labor, otherwise a person will not be able to enjoy his possessions and wealth. The ability to partake of the fruit of one’s labor and to find satisfaction and joy in it is a gift from God (e.g., Eccl 2:24-26; 3:13; 5:18 [19]; 9:7).
  9. Ecclesiastes 6:2 tn Heb “to eat of it.” The verb אָכַל (ʾakhal, “to eat”) functions as a metonymy of association, that is, the action of eating is associated with the enjoyment of the fruit of one’s labor (e.g., Eccl 2:24-26; 3:12-13, 22; 5:17-19; 8:15; 9:9).
  10. Ecclesiastes 6:2 tn The phrase “the fruit of his labor” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.
  11. Ecclesiastes 6:2 tn Heb “a stranger.” The Hebrew expression אִיש נָכְרִי (ʾish nokhri, “stranger”) sometimes refers not to a foreigner or someone that the person does not know, but simply to someone else other than the subject (e.g., Prov 27:2). In the light of 6:3-6, it might even refer to the man’s own heirs. The term is used as a synecdoche of species (foreigner for stranger) in the sense of someone else other than the subject: “someone else” (BDB 649 s.v. נָכְרִי 3).
  12. Ecclesiastes 6:2 tn Heb “eats.”
  13. Ecclesiastes 6:2 sn Instead, someone else enjoys it. A person may be unable to enjoy the fruit of his/her labor due to an unfortunate turn of events that robs a person of his possessions (5:13-14) or a miserly, lifelong hoarding of one’s wealth that robs him of the ability to enjoy what he has worked so hard to acquire (5:15-17). Qoheleth recommends the enjoyment of life and the fruit of one’s labor, as God enables (5:18-20). Unfortunately, the ability to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor is often thwarted by the obstacles described in 6:1-2 and 6:3-9.
  14. Ecclesiastes 6:2 tn Heb “an evil sickness.”
New English Translation (NET)

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