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For if they fall,

one will lift up his companion,

but woe

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to him who is but one

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when he falls for he has no second

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to help him up.


If they get into a tough situation, the two will not be equally devastated and one will have what it takes to help his companion out of that situation, but I feel sorry for the person who gets in a tough spot when he is alone, for he has no companion to help him out of it.



This word is only used twice in Scripture and both times it is in Ecclesiastes. It means “woe, or alas,” and the modern English word “cringeworthy” also comes to mind. In Hebrew it is a general statement, not a personal one, but I have changed it to “I feel sorry for” in the paraphrase column because “I feel sorry for” is a good way to express the sentiment in English, even though there is a change in perspective.

2: “but one”

The word used here is “one.” I could have translated it as “alone” for that is the intended meaning, but I wanted you to see the play on words that is going on here (see the next footnote).


The translation column is intended to be true to the Hebrew wording, “he has no second.” This is obviously referring to one that is alone when he falls and has no companion, but Solomon chose to express it with a play on the words one and two, as evidence that two is better than one.