Ecclesiastes 2 – “Reflections”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Qohelet reflects upon the futility of pleasure, wealth, wisdom, and hard work. He believes that people should enjoy life if they can.

II. Photo
Qohelet worked hard: “I laid out gardens and groves, in which I planted every kind of fruit tree.” (v. 5)

III. Select Verses    
1: I said to myself, “Come, I will treat you to merriment. Taste mirth!” That too, I found, was futile.
3: I ventured to tempt my flesh with wine, and to grasp folly, while letting my mind direct with wisdom, to the end that I might learn which of the two was better for men to practice in their few days of life under heaven.
4-11: I multiplied my possessions. I built myself houses and I planted vineyards. I laid out gardens and groves, in which I planted every kind of fruit tree. I constructed pools of water, enough to irrigate a forest shooting up with trees. I bought male and female slaves, and I acquired stewards. I also acquired more cattle, both herds and flocks, than all who were before me in Jerusalem. I further amassed silver and gold and treasures of kings and provinces; and I got myself male and female singers, as well as the luxuries of commoners — coffers and coffers of them. Thus, I gained more wealth than anyone before me in Jerusalem. In addition, my wisdom remained with me: I withheld from my eyes nothing they asked for, and denied myself no enjoyment; rather, I got enjoyment out of all my wealth. And that was all I got out of my wealth. Then my thoughts turned to all the fortune my hands had built up, to the wealth I had acquired and won — and oh, it was all futile and pursuit of wind; there was no real value under the sun!
13-15: I found that Wisdom is superior to folly As light is superior to darkness A wise man has his eyes in his head, Whereas a fool walks in darkness. But I also realized that the same fate awaits them both. So I reflected: “The fate of the fool is also destined for me; to what advantage, then, have I been wise?” And I came to the conclusion that that too was futile.
24: There is nothing worthwhile for a man but to eat and drink and afford himself enjoyment with his means. And even that, I noted, comes from God.

IV. Outline
1-11. The futility of pleasure and wealth
12-17. The wise die just like the foolish
18-23. Future generations and the futility of toil
24-26. Enjoy life if you can

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
C. L. Seow, Ecclesiastes (Anchor Yale Bible 18C; New Haven: Yale, 1997).
Photo copied from