Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
The verb עמל ('amal) is one of a few words meaning work or labor (Psalm 90:10, Proverbs 16:26). According HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, this root "relates to the dark side of labor, the grievous and unfulfilling aspect of work".
This root yields three derivatives, which are all spelled identical to the root, but pronounced slightly different:
- The masculine noun עמל ('amal) means trouble, toil or labor (Jeremiah 20:18, Psalm 105:43).
- The noun עמל ('amel) means laborer or sufferer (Judges 5:26, Job 3:20).
- The identical "verbal adjective" (as BDB Theological Dictionary terms it) עמל ('amel) means toiling and occurs only in Ecclesiastes (2:18, 3:9, 4:8, 9:9).
Note that the Greek word that is commonly translated with "evil" is πονηρος (poneros), which comes from the verb πενομαι (penomai), to toil or labor.