It has been called the Sphinx of Christian literature, the white elephant of the Canon of Scripture. It is an enigma for Bible students, a book that by its very nature is a mystery.



1. Hebrew Title: Qoheleth.

The title is taken from the very first sentence of the book - "the words of the PREACHER." The Qahal is the assembly, the congregation. The Qohelet is the one who addresses that assembly.

The fact that the title has a feminine ending is not particularly significant. Most ancient titles and designations of office had a feminine ending.

2. Greek Title: Ekkhsiasths.

Our English title for this book is taken from the Greek Septuagint, the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek. It means, "Assembly-speaker, preacher." It is related to the Greek word ekklhsia ("church").



This book is a sermon. It includes bad news and good news. The "bad news" has given the book a bad name. The reason for this is that the Preacher does not given simple pat answers to complex problems.

The main question asked in this book is this: What is life all about? The Bible is not afraid to raise the hard issues. It asks why should I try to be good? Does it matter?

After all, sometimes things go better for me when I don't try to serve God. So why bother? The people in our generation are asking these same questions. This book ought to be studied by all of our young people. There is only one answer to the questions that are being asked by people today. The answer is found in the living God.

Francis Schaeffer said that if he had an hour to talk to someone about Christ, he would talk for the first 45 minutes about how there are no answers. He would teach about the hopelessness of man. Only then would he share Jesus as the answer. And that is what Ecclesiastes does.



1. A number of factors seem to point to Solomon as the Author.

a. The author identifies himself as "the son of David, king in Jerusalem" (1:1; see also 1:12).

b. His wisdom.

He describes himself as having "magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me" (1:16).

c. His building activities.

He tells of his building houses, planting vineyards, making garden and parks and irrigating an entire forest.

d. His wealth.

He relates the greatness of his wealth, stating twice that it was more than all who preceded him in Jerusalem (2:7; 2:9).

    1. Tradition.

Both Jewish and Christian tradition is uniform is attributing this book to Solomon. It was not until after the Reformation that anyone suggested that the book may have been written by someone else.

2. It has been noted by scholars that there are several problems with Solomon being the author of this book.

On the other hand, there were many kings over Jerusalem prior to David, some of who are even mentioned in the pages of the Scripture.

There are several places where the writer makes observations which would be unlikely in coming from a king such as Solomon.

For example, in Ecclesiastes 10:17 he says, "Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility and whose princes eat at the appropriate time - for strength and not for drunkenness."

Another example is Ecclesiastes 10:20 which says, "In your bedchamber do not curse a king..."

However, we would not expect the author to write from the point of view of his kingship since this is a philosophical treatise rather than the edict of a head of state.

There is an entire body of Jewish literature known as the Pseudepigrapha ("false writings") which are intended, not to deceive, but as a legitimate literary device in which the author takes on the persona of a famous character from the past. Plato does something similar in his dialogues and the device is well-used by modern writers.



Assuming that Solomon is indeed the author, the book would have been written around 945 B.C. It seems to have been written later in Solomon's life.

Solomon had been one of the greatest of the Hebrew kings. His reign was one of peace and prosperity. It has been said that what David won through war, Solomon preserved through peace. And yet, there was a dark side to Solomon's reign. With all of his reputed wisdom, he found himself turning away from the Lord. It began very gradually. He entered into marital alliances with the surrounding countries. He took to be his wives the daughters of the surrounding pagan nations. And as those wives came to Israel, they brought with them their pagan gods.

Ecclesiastes is a journal of a man's search for meaning in life. Much of that search takes place apart from God. And the conclusion will be that life apart from God is empty.



1. The futility of life "under the sun" (1:2, 14).

Life without God is meaningless. When we take God out of the equation, the world makes absolutely no sense. You are born in one hospital and you die in another hospital and what happens in the "between time" doesn't change either of those facts.

And to make matters worse, the world is a bad place. Life is often unjust. Good people suffer and bad people prosper.

2. The importance of serving God throughout life (11:9 - 12:1, 13-14).

The author shows that the meaning of life is not to be found in experiencing the things of this world. True meaning is found only in serving the Creator.



Word or Phrase



Number of Times




35 times



Man (Adam)

48 times


Man (Male)

8 times



Labor, work

26 times

Under the sun

Tochet HaShemesh


29 times



1. Its Place in the English Bible.

Ecclesiastes is centrally located in our English Bible.


Historical Books

Poetical Books


17 Books of History

5 Books of Experience

17 Books of Prophecy

Law (5)

Pre-exile History (9)

Post-exile History (3)

Major Prophets (5)

Pre-exile Minor Prophets (9)

Post-exile Minor Prophets (3)




The five Poetical Books of which Ecclesiastes is a part each deal with one of the major problems of mankind.


The Problem of Suffering

Why do bad things happen to good people?


Prayer and Worship

How to I approach God?


The Problem of Conduct

How shall I live?


The Problem of Meaning in Life

Why am I here?

Song of Solomon


How shall I love?

2. Its Place in the Hebrew Bible.

The arrangement of books within the Hebrew Bible is markedly different from that which is found in our English Bibles (our English Bible follows the order found in the Septuagint).

The Law

The Prophets

The Writings




5 Books of Moses

Historical Books & Prophets




Genesis through Deuteronomy

Joshua thru Chronicles & all of the Prophetical Books except Daniel

Psalms, Proverbs, Job

Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther

Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah

Ecclesiastes was a part of five books known as the Megilloth - the "Rolls." These five books were read at special feast days throughout the year.

Song of Solomon






Shabuot (Pentecost)

Fall of Jerusalem

Sukkot (Tabernacles)


Nisan 14

Sivan 8

Ab 9

Tishri 15

Adar 14

April 17

June 9

August 8

September 24

March 19

Note: The English equivalent dates are only close approximations.

Ecclesiastes was read by the Jews each year at the Feast of Tabernacles - that time when the Jews would gather to Jerusalem and build booths in which they would reside for that week.

A booth is a temporary shelter. And they would read this book which would remind them that life is temporary and that only those things you do for the Lord will make a lasting difference.

The focus of this book is to show that nothing in this life will satisfy the needs of man's heart. Only the enjoyment and the service of God will bring lasting happiness.

Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1 Corinthians 1:20).

This is the same message which Ecclesiastes brings. It teaches us that the wisdom of the world does not bring true knowledge. Our wisdom is founded in Christ. The Gospel is the wisdom and the power of God. The ultimate answers to the questions which Ecclesiastes raises are found in the person of Jesus Christ.

About the Author
Return to the John Stevenson Bible Study Page
Have a Comment?