Ecclesiastes 2:1

Pleasure Doesn't Have Any Meaning

1 I said to myself, "Come on. I'll put pleasure to the test. I want to find out what is good." But that also proved to be meaningless.

Ecclesiastes 2:1 Meaning and Commentary

Ecclesiastes 2:1

I said in mine heart
He communed with his heart, he thought and reasoned within himself, and came to this resolution in his own mind; that since he could not find happiness in natural wisdom and knowledge, he would seek for it elsewhere, even in pleasure; in which, he observed, some men placed their happiness; or, however, sought for it there: or, "I said to my heart", as the Syriac version; Go to now;
or, "go, I pray thee" F21 listen to what I am about to say, and pursue the track I shall now point out to thee; I will prove thee with mirth;
with those things which will cause mirth, joy, and pleasure; and try whether any happiness can be enjoyed this way, since it could not be had in wisdom and knowledge. Jarchi and Aben Ezra render it, "I will mingle", wine with water, or with spices; or, "I will pour out", wine in plenty to drink of, "with joy", and to promote mirth: but the Targum, Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, interpret it as we do, and which sense Aben Ezra makes mention of; therefore enjoy pleasure;
which man is naturally a lover of; he was so in his state of innocency, and this was the bait that was laid for him, and by which he was drawn into sin; and now he loves, lives in, and serves sinful pleasures; which are rather imaginary than real, and last but for a season, and end in bitterness: but such sordid lusts and pleasures are not here meant; Solomon was too wise and good a man to give into these, as the "summum bonum"; or ever to think there could be any happiness in them, or even to make a trial of them for that purpose: not criminal pleasures, or an impure, sottish, and epicurean life, are here intended; but manly, rational, and lawful pleasures, for no other are mentioned in the detail of particulars following; and, in the pursuit of the whole, he was guided and governed by his wisdom, and that remained in him, ( Ecclesiastes 2:3 Ecclesiastes 2:9 ) . It may be rendered, "therefore see good" F23; look upon all the good, pleasant, and delectable things of life; and enjoy them in such a manner as, if possible, happiness may be attained in them; and, behold, this also [is] vanity;
it will be found, by making the experiment, that there is no solid and substantial happiness in it, as it was by himself.


F21 (an hkl) "age, quaeso", Tigurine version, Vatablus, Rambachius.
F23 (bwjb harw) "et vide in bonum", Montanus; "et vide bonum", Vatablus, Mercerus, Cocceius, Gejerus; "fraere bono", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius, Amama, Rambachius.

Ecclesiastes 2:1 In-Context

1 I said to myself, "Come on. I'll put pleasure to the test. I want to find out what is good." But that also proved to be meaningless.
2 "Laughter is foolish," I said. "And what can pleasure do for me?"
3 I tried cheering myself up by drinking wine. I even tried living in a foolish way. But wisdom was still guiding my mind. I wanted to see what was really important for men to do on earth during the few days of their lives.
4 So I started some large projects. I built houses for myself. I planted vineyards.
5 I made gardens and parks. I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.
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