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Ecclesiastes 1:17

17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.

Read Ecclesiastes 1:17 Using Other Translations

And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.
And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.
So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind.

What does Ecclesiastes 1:17 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Ecclesiastes 1:17

And I gave my heart to know wisdom
Which is repeated, for the confirmation of it, from ( Ecclesiastes 1:13 ) , and that it might be taken notice of how assiduous and diligent he had been in acquiring it; a circumstance not to be overlooked; and to know madness and folly:
that he might the better know wisdom, and learn the difference between the one and the other, since opposites illustrate each other; and that he might shun madness and folly, and the ways thereof, and expose the actions of mad and foolish men: so Plato F19 says, ignorance is a disease, of which there are two kinds, madness and folly. The Targum, Septuagint, and all the Oriental versions, interpret the last word, translated "folly", by understanding, knowledge, and prudence; which seems to be right, since Solomon speaks of nothing afterwards, as vexation and grief to him, but wisdom and knowledge: and I would therefore read the clause in connection with the preceding, thus, "and the knowledge of things boasted of", vain glorious knowledge; "and prudence", or what may be called craftiness and cunning; or what the apostle calls "science falsely so called", ( 1 Timothy 6:20 ) ; see ( Proverbs 12:8 ) ( Daniel 8:25 ) ; I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit;
(See Gill on Ecclesiastes 1:14); the reason follows.


F19 In Timaeo, p. 1084.
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