ECCLESIASTES – ALEXANDER SCOURBY


No author’s name is mentioned in the book of Ecclesiastes.

Already old Jewish tradition says that King Solomon is the author of this book of the Bible. And yet Solomon’s authorship has many a times been doubted at for two reasons. Firstly for language reasons and secondly because the name Jehovah does not appear in the book. Both reasons however are neither sound nor compelling.

In Ecclesiastes chap. 1:1+12 the author calls himself son of David and king in Jerusalem. In verse 16 he speaks of his great wisdom which according to 1 Kings 3:12; 1 Kings 4:2 f; 10:1 only King Solomon had. In Ecclesiastes 12:9 he mentions that he set in order many proverbs. This fact also speaks for Solomon only (see 1 Kings 4:32; Proverbs 1:1).

Various expressions in Ecclesiastes would indicate that Solomon wrote the book only in old age (Ecclesiastes 1:12-18; Ecclesiastes 2:1-11; Ecclesiastes 11:9-10; Ecclesiastes 12:1-7). This is where the author reviews a long life and all his thoughts and deeds and where he is warning youth and points to old age.

King Solomon ruled around 970 to 931 BC. The book of Ecclesiastes must therefore date from the end of this period.

The expression “under the sun” also appears 29 times. This expression stresses the character of the book that describes life on this earth from the viewpoint of fallen man. It has therefore rightly been called a scene of the consequences of fall of man (compare Genesis 3:17-19).

The title “preacher” is the rendering of the Hebrew word qohelet (female gender) that is derived from the verb qahal (Engl. to gather). The word qohelet appears seven times in Ecclesiastes (chap. 1:1 ,2 ,12; 7:27; 12:8-10) but nowhere else in the Bible.

The translators of the Septuagint have rendered it with ecclesiasts (from ecclesia, Engl. Assembly, church). Martin Luther was the first one to translate this word (which is difficult to translate) with “preacher”. But this meaning has been questioned. Another explanation is based on the principle meaning of “gathering publicly”.

Accordingly the wisdom described in Ecclesiastes is the one accessible to all men. It is so to say the wisdom taught in the temple court whereas the hidden wisdom taught in the sanctuary (Psalms 73:17) is only opened up for believers. This wisdom is described in Proverbs, which as already mentioned are the “sequel” to Ecclesiastes.


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The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south, and goes round to the north; round and round goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already, in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to happen among those who come after.

Ecclesiastes 1:5‭-‬11 RSV

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