Ecclesiastes 2:11

11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was 1vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing 2to be gained under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:11 Meaning and Commentary

Ecclesiastes 2:11

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and
on the labour that I had laboured to do
He had looked at them, and on them, over and over again, and had taken pleasure therein; but now he sits down and enters into a serious consideration of them, what prodigious expenses he had been at; what care and thought, what toil and labour of mind, he had taken in contriving, designing, and bringing these works to perfection; what pleasure and delight he had found in them, and what happiness upon the whole arose from them: he now passes his judgment, and gives his sentiments concerning these things, having had it in his power to make himself master of everything delightful, which he did; was a competent judge, and thoroughly qualified to give a just estimate of matters; and it is as follows; and, behold, all [was] vanity and vexation of spirit;
nothing solid and substantial in the whole; no true pleasure and real joy, and no satisfaction or happiness in that pleasure; these pleasing things perished with the using, and the pleasure of them faded and died in the enjoyment of them; and instead of yielding solid delight, only proved vexations, because the pleasure was so soon over, and left a thirst for more, and what was not to be had; at most and best, only the outward senses were fed, the mind not at all improved, nor the heart made better, and much less contented; it was only pleasing the fancy and imagination, and feeding on wind; and [there was] no profit under the sun;
by those things; to improve and satisfy the mind of man, to raise him to true happiness, to be of any service to him in the hour of death, or fit him for an eternal world. Alshech interprets the labour mentioned in this text of the labour of the law, which brings no reward to a man in this world.

Ecclesiastes 2:11 In-Context

9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.
10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil.
11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
12 So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done.
13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness.

Cross References 2

  • 1. See Ecclesiastes 1:14
  • 2. See Ecclesiastes 1:3
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.