Ecclesiastes (/ᵻˌkliːziˈæstiːz/; Greek: Ἐκκλησιαστής, Ekklēsiastēs, Hebrew: קֹהֶלֶת, qōheleṯ) is one of 24 books of the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible, where it is delegated one of the Ketuvim (or “Compositions”). It is among the authoritative Wisdom Books in the Old Testament. The title Ecclesiastes is a Latin transliteration of the Greek interpretation of the Hebrew Kohelet (signifying “Gatherer”, however generally deciphered as “Educator” or “Preacher”), the pen name by the writer of the book.
The book dates from c.450–180 BCE and is from the Middle Eastern convention of the legendary self-portrayal, in which a character, depicting himself as a ruler, relates his encounters and draws lessons from them, regularly self-basic. The creator, presenting himself as “child of David, ruler in Jerusalem” (i.e., Solomon) examines the significance of life and the most ideal approach to live. He broadcasts every one of the activities of man to be naturally hevel, signifying “vain” or “purposeless”, (“simple breath”), as both insightful and silly end in death.
Kohelet unmistakably supports astuteness as a methods for a very much lived natural life. In light of this pointlessness, one ought to appreciate the straightforward joys of every day life, for example, eating, drinking, and taking delight in one’s work, which are endowments from the hand of God. The book finishes up with the directive: “Fear God, and keep his precepts; for that is the entire obligation of everybody”.
Structure of The Book of Ecclesiastes
Ecclesiastes is presented as an autobiography of “Kohelet” (or “Qoheleth”). Kohelet’s story is framed by voice of the narrator, who refers to Kohelet in the third person, praises his wisdom, but reminds the reader that wisdom has its limitations and is not man’s main concern. Kohelet reports what he planned, did, experienced and thought. His journey to knowledge is, in the end, incomplete. The reader is not only to hear Kohelet’s wisdom, but to observe his journey towards understanding and acceptance of life’s frustrations and uncertainties: the journey itself is important.
Few of the many attempts to uncover an underlying structure to Ecclesiastes have met with widespread acceptance; among them, the following is one of the more influential:
- Title (1:1)
- Initial poem (1:2–11)
- I: Kohelet’s investigation of life (1:12–6:9)
- II: Kohelet’s conclusions (6:10–11:6)
- Introduction (6:10–12)
- A: Man cannot discover what is good for him to do (7:1–8:17)
- B: Man does not know what will come after him (9:1–11:6)
- Concluding poem (11:7–12:8)
- Epilogue (12:9–14)
Verse 1:1 is a superscription, the ancient equivalent of a title page: it introduces the book as “the words of Kohelet, son of David, king in Jerusalem.”
Most, though not all, modern commentators regard the epilogue (12:9–14) as an addition by a later scribe. Some have identified certain other statements as further additions intended to make the book more religiously orthodox (e.g., the affirmations of God’s justice and the need for piety).