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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

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Commentary on Ecclesiastes

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1.1–6.12 : The emptiness of all endeavor.

Inasmuch as meaningless repetition characterizes life, there is no advantage to toil.

1.1–11 : Title and prologue.

1 :

The unusual Heb. form for “the Speaker” indicates that an office, not a name is meant.

2 :

The Heb. phrase futility, utter futility is a superlative, just as Song of Songs means “the best song.”

3 :

Under the sun: on earth.

4 :

Earth endures while the “lord of the earth,” humankind (see Gen. 1.28 ), passes on.

8 :

Things: or words.

1.12–2.26 : Neither wisdom nor pleasure is profitable.

Since one fate comes to all, there is no gain in work, knowledge, or sensuality.

13 :

The occupation of the wise is dismissed as a worthless task, even if a gift of God.

14 :

Chasing: or shepherding, with nothing to show for one's effort (Hos. 12.1 ).

16 :

Predecessors: the fiction of Solomonic authorship is here abandoned; Solomon had only one predecessor in Jerusalem (cf. 2.7, 9 ).

2.10 :

The author intends readers to assume that the king possessed the means and power of fulfilling his will, yet at the same time rendering a negative judgment on “Solomon and all his glory.”

23 :

Peace of mind is forbidden even the good person.

26 :

Except for the refrain, this may be either a pious gloss or a quotation to be refuted.

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