The Book of Ecclesiastes

Summary of the Book
of Ecclesiastes

The book of Ecclesiastes contains Proverbs, maxims, sayings, and is largely an autobiographical story.  Solomon wrote it late in his life, approximately 935 B.C.  He had become aware of the mistakes that the made throughout his life and began to document them. 

The purpose of Ecclesiastes is to spare future generations the suffering the misery of seeking after foolish, meaningless, materialistic emptiness, and to offer wisdom by discovering truth in seeking God.

It appears that Solomon once again, wants to teach the reader wisdom:

“And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith” (1:13).

Chapter 1-2 – deals with Solomon’s personal experiences throughout his life. He describes that everything he sought was selfish pleasure and meant nothing eternally.  Generally, he speaks concerning the meaning of life:

“I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (1:14).

Solomon, the man who God gave the most wisdom, sought after, researched and tried everything in an attempt to find lasting happiness, and came to this conclusion:

The history of Egypt has been long and wealthy, due to the flow of the Nile River with its fertile banks and delta, as well as the accomplishments of Egypt’s native inhabitants and outside influence. Much of Egypt’s ancient history was a mystery until the secrets of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs were deciphered with the discovery and help of the Rosetta Stone. Among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid of Giza is the only one still standing. The Library of Alexandria was the only one of its kind for centuries.

Human settlement in Egypt dates back to at least 40,000 BC with Aterian tool manufacturing. Ancient Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh of the First Dynasty, Narmer. Predominately native Egyptian rule lasted until the conquest by the Achaemenid Empire in the sixth century BC.

Recent Egyptian history has been dominated by events following nearly thirty years of rule by former president Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian revolution of 2011 deposed Mubarak and resulted in the first democratically elected president in Egyptian history, Mohamed Morsi. Unrest after the 2011 revolution and related disputes led to the 2013 Egyptian coup d’état.

“And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labor: and this was my portion of all my labor.  

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, there was no profit under the sun? (2:10-11).

Chapters 3-5 – Solomon gives common explanation and observations.  One in particular is:

“As he came forth of his mother’s womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labor, which he may carry away in his hand” (5:15).

Speaking of everyone who dies takes nothing with him; possessions, in the end, are ultimately useless.  As tough as it is, our sinful nature naturally gravitates toward materialism.

Chapters 6-8 – are Solomon’s advice and for having a meaningful life:

“Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?” (7:13).

Chapters 9-12 – Solomon writes a conclusion that clears up the entire book, everyone will eventually die and all the deeds of man are vanity (useless) without God; our obedience must be to Him. 

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (12:13).