Ecclesiastes 1:12

Wisdom Is Meaningless

12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.

Ecclesiastes 1:12 in Other Translations

12 I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
12 I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem.
12 I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem.
12 Call me "the Quester." I've been king over Israel in Jerusalem.
12 I, the Teacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem.

Ecclesiastes 1:12 Meaning and Commentary

Ecclesiastes 1:12

I the preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
] Solomon having given a general proof of the vanity of all things here below, and of the insufficiency of them to make men happy, proceeds to particular instances, and begins with human wisdom and knowledge, which of all things might be thought to be most conducive to true happiness; and yet it falls short of it: he instances in himself for proof of it; and he could not have pitched on anyone more proper and pertinent to the purpose, who had all the advantages of obtaining wisdom, was assiduous in his pursuit of it, and made a proficiency in it above all mankind; wherefore he must be owned to be a proper judge, and whatever is concluded by him may be taken for granted as certain; and this is the sum of the following verses to the end of the chapter. Now let it be observed, that he was a "preacher", not a private person, and must have a good share of knowledge to qualify him for teaching and instructing others; and, more than this, he was a king, and did not want money to purchase books, and procure masters to instruct him in all the branches of literature; and when he entered upon the more profound study of wisdom, and especially when he said this, it was not in his infancy or childhood, or before he came to the throne, but after; even after he had asked, wisdom of God to govern, and it had been given him; yea, after he had been a long time king, as he now was; though the Jewish writers, as the Targum, Jarchi, and others, conclude from hence that he was not now a king, but become a private person, deposed or driven from his throne, which does not appear: moreover, he was king of Israel, not over a barbarous people, where darkness and ignorance reigned, but over a "wise and understanding people", as they are called ( Deuteronomy 4:6 ) ; and he was king over them in Jerusalem too, the metropolis of the nation; there he had his royal palace, where were not only the temple, the place of divine worship, but a college of prophets, and a multitude of priests, and an abundance of wise and knowing men, whom he had opportunity of conversing with frequently; to which may be added, his large correspondence abroad; persons from all kings and kingdoms came to hear his wisdom, as the queen of Sheba; and by putting questions to him, and so exercising his talents, not a little contributed to the improvement of them. Now a person so qualified must be a judge of wisdom, and what he says deserves attention; and it may be observed, that what he says, as follows, is "in verbo regis et sacerdotis", on the word of a king and preacher, who would never risk his honour, or forfeit his character, by saying an untruth.

Ecclesiastes 1:12 In-Context

10 Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them.
12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind!
14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Cross References 2

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