and on all the effort that I had expended to accomplish it, 2
like chasing the wind!
As one dies, so dies the other; both have the same breath.
There is no advantage for humans over animals,
for both are fleeting.
than for one’s heart always to crave more. 14
1 tn Heb “all my works that my hands had done.”
2 tn Heb “and all the toil with which I had toiled in doing it.” The term עָמַל (’amal, “toil”) is repeated to emphasize the burden and weariness of the labor which Qoheleth exerted in his accomplishments.
3 tn Heb “Behold!”
4 tn The term הַכֹּל (hakkol, “everything” or “all”) must be qualified and limited in reference to the topic that is dealt with in 2:4-11. This is an example of synecdoche of general for the specific; the general term “all” is used only in reference to the topic at hand. This is clear from the repetition of כֹּל (kol, “everything”) and (“all these things”) in 2:11.
5 tn The phrase “achievements and possessions” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in translation for clarity.
6 tn The term “ultimately” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.
7 tn The parallelism with יִתְרוֹן (yitron), “profit; advantage; gain”) indicates that הֶבֶל (hevel) should be nuanced as “profitless, fruitless, futile” in this context. While labor offers some relative and temporal benefits, such as material acquisitions and the enjoyment of the work of one’s hands, there is no ultimate benefit to be gained from secular human achievement.
8 tn The noun יִתְרוֹן (yitron, “profit”) has a two-fold range of meanings: (1) “what comes of [something]; result” (Eccl 1:3; 2:11; 3:9; 5:8, 15; 7:12; 10:10) and (2) “profit; advantage” (Eccl 2:13; 10:11); see HALOT 452–53 s.v. יִתְרוֹי. It is derived from the noun יֶתֶר (yeter, “what is left behind; remainder”; HALOT 452 s.v. I יֶתֶר). The related verb יָתַר (yatar) denotes “to be left over; to survive” (Niphal) and “to have left over” (Hiphil); see HALOT 451–52 s.v. יתר. When used literally, יִתְרוֹן refers to what is left over after expenses (gain or profit); when used figuratively, it refers to what is advantageous or of benefit. Though some things have relative advantage over others (e.g., light over darkness, and wisdom over folly in 2:13), there is no ultimate profit in man’s labor due to death.
9 tn The phrase “from them” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.
10 tn Heb “under the sun.”
11 tn Heb “of the sons of man.”
12 tn The phrase “to be content with” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.
13 tn The expression מַרְאֵה עֵינַיִם (mar’eh ’enayim, “the seeing of the eyes”) is a metonymy of cause (i.e., seeing an object) for effect (i.e., being content with what the eyes can see); see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 552-54.
14 tn Heb “the roaming of the soul.” The expression מֵהֲלָךְ־נָפֶשׁ (mehalakh-nafesh, “the roaming of the soul”) is a metonymy for unfulfilled desires. The term “soul” (נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh) is used as a metonymy of association for man’s desires and appetites (BDB 660 s.v. נֶפֶשׁ 5.c; 6.a). This also involves the personification of the roving appetite as “roving” (מֵהֲלָךְ); see BDB 235 s.v. הָלַךְ II.3.f; 232 I.3.
15 tn The phrase “continual longing” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.
16 tn The term “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity and smoothness.