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Ecclesiastes Chapter 1

1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem:

2 "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher; "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."

3 What does man gain from all his labour in which he labours under the sun?

4 One generation goes, and another generation comes; but the earth remains forever.

5 The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hurries to its place where it rises.

6 The wind goes towards the south, and turns around to the north. It turns around continually as it goes, and the wind returns again to its courses.

7 All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again.

8 All things are full of weariness beyond uttering. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

9 That which has been is that which shall be; and that which has been done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

10 Is there a thing of which it may be said, "Behold, this is new?" It has been long ago, in the ages which were before us.

11 There is no memory of the former; neither shall there be any memory of the latter that are to come, amongst those that shall come after.

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

13 I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under the sky. It is a heavy burden that God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with.

14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.

15 That which is crooked can't be made straight; and that which is lacking can't be counted.

16 I said to myself, "Behold, I have obtained for myself great wisdom above all who were before me in Jerusalem. Yes, my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge."

17 I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also was a chasing after wind.

18 For in much wisdom is much grief; and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

Footnotes

Verse 10 (Behold)
"Behold" means look at, take notice, observe, see, or gaze at. It is often used as an interjection.
Verse 13 (God)
The Hebrew word rendered "God" is Elohim.

Version: World English Bible


Ecclesiastes Chapter 1 Guide

The first verse of this chapter introduces us to the author of the Book. Taken in conjunction with verse Ecclesiastes 1:12, it leaves no room for doubt that he is Solomon. In stating his theme he employs phrases which recur through the whole of the Book: "vanity," "what profit?" "under the sun." The statement is a declaration of the emptiness of life when it is wholly conditioned in material things-"under the sun."

In this first section we have a still more particular statement in general terms. The generations come and go while the earth abides. The sun rises and sets. The wind moves in a ceaseless circuit. Rivers run into the sea, only to be returned to the places from which they come. Man comes to the scene with desires which are never satisfied, and passes away into a land of forgetfulness. Some of the declarations are very remarkable for scientific accuracy, eves in the light of latter-day discoveries. The circuit of the wind to the south and back again to the north is of but recent discovery. The return of rivers to the mountains by evaporation is also of recent discovery. Yet the intention of this whole passage is to impress on the mind the fact of the constant grind of the mechanism of the universe in the midst of which man lives his brief day and passes out to forget and be forgotten. This is still the view of men of science who lose their vision of the spiritual realities which constitute the upper half of human life.

The discourse proceeded to state the grounds on which such conclusions have been reached. They are twofold. First, the actual experiences of the king; and, second, the widespread observation of other men and of matters in general. Commencing with his own experience, he states first the vanity of knowledge, of mirth, of wealth. As to knowledge, he had applied his heart to seek and search out all the works done under the sun, and had come to the conclusion that they were all vanity, and that knowledge of them was grief. Knowledge unillumined by spiritual consciousness is utterly unsatisfactory.

From "An Exposition of the Whole Bible" by G. Campbell Morgan.