Eccl:1:1: The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
The writer here claimed to be King Solomon. According to the Bible, Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived (or ever will live) (1 Kings 3:12). Although the Proverbs of Solomon were disappointing, we will look forward, with renewed hope, to reading his words of wisdom in the book of Ecclesiastes.
Eccl:1:2: Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
This is a claim that the writer makes repeatedly throughout his short book. What, exactly, does it mean to state that everything is vanity?
The dictionary defines vanity as follows:
Lack of usefulness, worth, or effect; worthlessness.
So, the author of Ecclesiastes felt that everything was worthless. "Everything" would, of course, include the book of Ecclesiastes. Do we really care to read a book whose own author declared it to be worthless? Let us dutifully plod on -- out of curiosity if nothing else…
Eccl:1:5: The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
This is false. The sun does not "hasten" around the "underside" of the earth in order to reappear in the east at dawn. This was written by someone who did not know that the earth spins on its axis; he obviously thought that the sun orbited the earth. If this was indeed the writing of Solomon, then he clearly demonstrated here that he was not the wisest man who has ever lived.
Eccl:1:9: The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
Eccl:1:10: Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
Do you suppose that in Solomon's day they had cable television, laptop computers, airplanes, and nuclear power-plants? It seems there are some new things under the sun after all. "Wise King Solomon" was wrong again.
Eccl:1:11: There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.
This is false: you can ask any historian or grandmother. Could it be that, despite the great wisdom his lord had imparted to him, Solomon was forgetful?
Eccl:1:15: That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.
I was born with a malady called scoliosis: a crooked spine. Several years ago I underwent an operation which straightened my spine. But, according to the above Biblical verse, this is impossible.
Eccl:1:18: For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
Since what "Solomon" has tried to pass off as "wisdom" is not really wisdom at all (but rather a collection of falsehoods), his conclusion that wisdom leads to grief is baseless.
Eccl:2:17: Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
Eccl:2:18: Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.
It sounds to me like "Solomon" needed professional counseling. Most people are able to come to terms with their own mortality, and the need to work for a living. But, here in the Bible we are told that the wisest man who ever lived hated life and work! What sort of a philosophy of life is this?
Eccl:2:24: There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.
This appears to be a latter interpolation by a copyist who had enough of "Solomon's" negativity, and decided to write something positive right in the middle of it all. Unfortunately, this verse contradicts most of the rest of the book. How can all work be "grievous, vanity, and vexation" when work is a "good" to be "enjoyed" and when "there is nothing better" than working, eating, and drinking?
Eccl:2:25: For who can eat, or who else can hasten hereunto, more than I?
This is not a verse one is likely to find posted at their local Weight Watchers' office.
Eccl:3:1: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
Eccl:3:2: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
Eccl:3:3: A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
How can there be "a time to kill" when God's commandment was: "Thou shalt not kill" (Ex. 20:13)?
Eccl:3:18: I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.
Eccl:3:19: For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.
Eccl:3:20: All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
Finally, a bit of real wisdom! The next time fundamentalist Christians scoff at the facts of evolution, I intend to show them the above verses. Yes, the Bible states that men are animals. It also states that we die and return to dust just like all of the other animals, and that's the end of the story.
4:1: So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.
Eccl:4:2: Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.
Eccl:4:3: Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
This is a fatalistic, negative philosophy of life. This was supposedly written by King Solomon, the wealthiest, wisest, most respected man on earth, and the most powerful man in the kingdom. So, instead of merely observing oppression, and seeing the lack of comforters for the oppressed, why didn't he use his great wealth and influence to fight oppression and provide comfort? It is very easy to sit back and say, "Oh, there is so much injustice in the world that people are better off dead, or better off never being born." But I have much more respect for someone who sees the injustices and does something to try and eliminate them or to provide comfort to the oppressed.
These are also good verses for fundamentalist anti-abortionists to consider; it says in the Bible that it is better not to be born!
Eccl:6:10: That which hath been is named already, and it is known that it is man: neither may he contend with him that is mightier than he.
We are to believe that this was written by David's son, the same David that was supposedly renowned for having "contended with one who was mightier than he" (Goliath) and for having come off the victor. How odd that David's son would make a statement so at odds with one of his father's main claims to fame!
Eccl:7:3: Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
Eccl:7:4: The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
More negativity. You say you just married the love of your life, and you're ecstatic? Oh, you fool! Why is your heart mirthful? According to the above Bible verses, it would be much better for you if your spouse just died and you were in mourning; sorrow is better than laughter, you know.
Eccl:7:13: Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?
Men can. They can take a winding river, for instance, and divert it into straight channels. Men were capable of such feats even in Solomon's day, but evidently the wisest man in the world didn't know this. Beavers can accomplish similar feats. Men can also stake up a crooked tree and force it to grow straight. Doctors straightened the crooked spine I was born with. Are those enough examples for you?
Eccl:7:15: All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.
This verse contradicts a verse in the book of Proverbs (which were also supposedly written by Solomon:
Prov:10:27: The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.
Eccl:7:20: For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
Solomon stated that there was not a single just man on earth. No one was doing good. But, despite his "vast wisdom", Solomon could not have known the doings of every man on earth. Therefore, his statement could have only been based on the people he did know. But, since he still wouldn't have known the inner hearts of his acquaintances, he could really only base such a statement on his own actions. So, according to Solomon himself, Solomon was not just or good. Does it make sense to read the writings of someone who was not just or good in order to learn what is just and good?
Eccl:7:23: All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me.
Eccl:7:24: That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?
Elsewhere we were told that Solomon was exceedingly wise, and that no one would ever be as wise as he (1 Kings 3:12). Yet, here he admitted that wisdom was far from him, and he was unable to figure out anything deep or "far off". We know that Einstein was able to figure out things deep and "far off", but this is a paradox if Solomon was wiser than Einstein (as the Bible insists he must have been).
Eccl:8:13: But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.
Back in chapter 7, verse 15, "Solomon" claimed to have seen a wicked man who "prolonged his life in his wickedness". This could not be possible in light of the above verse.
Eccl:8:14: There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.
How could there be "just men" when back in chapter 7, verse 20, Solomon stated that "there is not a just man on earth"?
Eccl:8:15: Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.
Had Solomon become a "fool"? Back in chapter 7, verses 3 and 4, Solomon stated that sorrow was better than laughter, and that "the heart of fools is in the house of mirth". Yet, here he praised mirth!
Eccl:9:2: All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.
Eccl:9:3: This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
Eccl:9:4: For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
Eccl:9:5: For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
Eccl:9:6: Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
There you have it: the ultimate end of both the good and the wicked is the same. The above verses repudiate any notion of a conscious afterlife. Solomon had some wisdom after all! If "the dead know not anything" then they don't know if they are in heaven or hell. If they have no more reward, then they can't be rewarded with an eternity of bliss in heaven. If they have no more hatred, then they can't hate being in the "fires of hell".
Christian apologists will read these words in Ecclesiastes and explain them away by saying, "This book represents worldly wisdom apart from God." But Solomon's wisdom was not apart from God; according to the Bible, his wisdom was bestowed upon him by God as a special gift. The book also mentions God many times.
If these statements in Ecclesiastes are not true, and are the misguided reasoning of a man apart from God, then why is this book included in "God's Word", the "Holy Bible"?
This excuse for Ecclesiastes brings up a very important question: If Ecclesiastes represents the musings of human reason apart from God, are there other books in the Bible which are also just human reasoning masquerading as divinely inspired pronouncements?
I believe that we shall see, as we continue our excursion through them all, that the answer to this question is: "Yes, all of the books in the Bible fit this description." It's just that Ecclesiastes is the only book of the Bible where this truth is generally admitted by Christians.
Eccl:10:19: A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.
This appears to be praising money. Yet, elsewhere in the Bible we are told that the love of money is the root of all evil:
1Tm:6:10: For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Eccl:11:3: If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.
Another example of Solomon's great wisdom! What a revelation!
Eccl:11:10: Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.
What happened to the "wisdom" of: " Sorrow is better than laughter" (Eccl 7:3)? Here we are told to remove sorrow. So, is sorrow a good thing or a bad thing?
Eccl:12:12: And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
This is not a verse one is likely to see posted at a Christian publishing company (such as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, which seems to fulfill this particular Scripture, if no others.)
Eccl:12:13: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
So, in the end, we are back to the "wisdom" which is simply fear. Fearing an ancient tribal god is not wisdom: it is cowardice and foolishness bordering on delusion.
In Solomon's day, his god's "commandments" were the Mosaic Law. Yet the Bible later claims that this law passed away, and it is no longer the "duty of man" to keep these commandments. So, of what use is the book of Ecclesiastes when it comes to a false conclusion?