I have seen all the works that are done under the sun
All things done by the Lord, that were on the earth, and in it, and in the sea; he considered them, and endeavoured to search into the nature of them; and did attain to a very great knowledge of them, so that he could speak of them to the instruction of others; see ( 1 Kings 4:33 ) ; and all that were done by men, by their head, or by their hands; all that were written or wrought by them; all their philosophical works and experiments, and all their mechanic operations; as well as all their good and bad works, in a moral sense; so the Targum,
``I saw all the deeds of the children of men, which are done under the sun in this world;''and, behold, all [is] vanity and vexation of spirit;
not only the things known, but the knowledge of them; it is mere vanity, there is nothing solid and substantial in it, or that can make a man happy; yea, on the contrary, it is vexatious and distressing; it is not only a weariness to the flesh to obtain it, but, in the reflection of it, gives pain and uneasiness to the mind: it is a "breaking of the spirit"
F14 of the man, as the Targum, Jarchi, and Alshech, interpret the phrase; it wastes and consumes his spirit, as well as his time, and all to no purpose; it is, as some ancient Greek versions and others render it, and not amiss, a "feeding on wind" F15; what is useless and unprofitable, and like labouring for that; see ( Hosea 12:1 ) ( Job 15:2 ) ( Ecclesiastes 5:16 ) ; and so Aben Ezra.
F14 (xwr twer) "affiictio spiritus", V. L. Junius & Tremellius; "contritio spiritus", so some in Vatablus.
F15 (nomh anemou) , Aquila; "pastio venti", Mercerus, Piscator, Gejerus, Amama.