Ecclesiastes 1:1

Everything Is Meaningless

1 The words of the Teacher,[a] son of David, king in Jerusalem:

Ecclesiastes 1:1 in Other Translations

1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
1 These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem.
1 These are the words of the Quester, David's son and king in Jerusalem:
1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Ecclesiastes 1:1 Meaning and Commentary

Ecclesiastes 1:1

The words of the preacher
Or the preacher's sermon. The whole book is one continued discourse, and an excellent one it is; consisting not of mere words, but of solid matter; of things of the greatest importance, clothed with words apt and acceptable, which the preacher sought out, ( Ecclesiastes 12:10 ) . The Targum is,

``the words of the prophecy, which the preacher, who is Solomon, prophesied.''
According to which this book is prophetic; and so it interprets it, and owns it to be Solomon's. The word "Koheleth", rendered "preacher", is by some taken to be a proper name of Solomon; who, besides the name of Solomon, his parents gave him, and Jedidiah, as the Lord called him, had the name of Koheleth; nay, the Jews say F9, he had seven names, and to these three add four more, Agur, Jake, Ithiel, and Lemuel; the word by many is left untranslated F11; but it seems rather to be an appellative, and is by some rendered "gathered", or the "soul gathered" {l}. Solomon had apostatized from the church and people of God, and had followed idols; but now was brought back by repentance, and was gathered into the fold, from whence he had strayed as a lost sheep; and therefore chooses to call himself by this name, when he preached his recantation sermon, as this book may be said to be. Others rather render it, "the gatherer" F13; and was so called, as the Jewish writers say F14, either because he gathered and got much wisdom, as it is certain he did; or because he gathered much people from all parts, to hear his wisdom, ( 1 Kings 4:34 ) ( 10:1 ) ; in which he was a type of Christ, ( Genesis 49:10 ) ( John 3:26 ) ( Matthew 23:37 ) ; or this discourse of his was delivered in a large congregation, got together for that purpose; as he gathered and assembled together the heads and chief of the people, at the dedication of the temple, ( 1 Kings 8:1 ) ; so he might call them together to hear the retraction he made of his sins and errors, and repentance for them: and this might justly entitle him to the character of a "preacher", as we render it, an office of great honour, as well as of great importance to the souls of men; which Solomon, though a king, did not disdain to appear in; as David his father before him, and Noah before him, the father, king, and governor of the new world, ( Psalms 34:11 ) ( 2 Peter 2:5 ) . The word used is in the feminine gender, as ministers of the Gospel are sometimes expressed by a word of the like kind; and are called maidens, ( Psalms 68:11 ) ( Proverbs 9:3 ) ; to denote their virgin purity, and uncorruptness in doctrine and conversation: and here some respect may be had to Wisdom, or Christ, frequently spoken of by Solomon, as a woman, and who now spoke by him; which is a much better reason for the use of the word than his effeminacy, which his sin or his old age had brought him to. The word "soul" may be supplied, as by some, and be rendered, "the preaching soul" F15; since, no doubt, he performed his work as such with all his heart and soul. He further describes himself by his descent, the son of David;
which he mentions either as an honour to him, that he was the son of so great, so wise, so holy, and good a man; or as an aggravation of his fall, that being the descendant of such a person, and having had so religious an education, and so good an example before him, and yet should sin so foully as he had done; and it might also encourage him, that he had interest in the sure mercies of David, and in the promises made to him, that when his children sinned, they should be chastised, yet his lovingkindness and covenant should not depart from them. King of Jerusalem;
not of Jerusalem only, but of all Israel, for as yet no division was made; see ( Ecclesiastes 1:12 ) . In Jerusalem, the city of Wisdom, as Jarchi observes, where many wise and good men dwelt, as well as it was the metropolis of the nation; and, which was more, it was the city where the temple stood, and where the worship of God was performed, and his priests ministered, and his people served him; and yet he, their king, that should have set them a better example, fell into idolatry!

F9 Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 2. 3. Midrash Kohelet, fol. 60. 3.
F11 (tlhq) "Koheleth", Broughton, Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius. Rambachius.
F12 (h quch h episunagomenh) , "anima congregata", Cocceius,
F13 "Collector", Arabic version; "congregator, q. d. sapientia congregatrix", Amama, Rambachius; "the gathering soul, either recollecting itself, or by admonitions gathering others", Lightfoot, vol. 2. p. 76.
F14 Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 2. 3. & Jarchi, Aben Ezra, & Baruch in loc. Pesikta Rabbati apud Yalkut, ut supra. (in Kohelet, l. 1.)
F15 "Concionatrix anima", Vatablus, Piscator.

Ecclesiastes 1:1 In-Context

1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
3 What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.

Cross References 2

  • 1. ver 12; Ecclesiastes 7:27; Ecclesiastes 12:10
  • 2. S Proverbs 1:1

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "the leader of the assembly" ; also in verses 2 and 12
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