Ecclesiastes 1–2: "All Is Vanity"

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 136


Ecclesiastes 1–2 records what the “preacher” (as he calls himself) told about his search to find some lasting feeling of joy and happiness. As you read, think about how you feel about the things he saw and did and what he sought.
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Understanding the Scriptures

Ecclesiastes 1

Vanity (vv. 2, 14)Meaningless, temporary and not satisfying 
Profit (v. 3)Reward 
Taketh (v. 3)Does 
Under the sun (vv. 3, 9)On earth 
Hasteth (v. 5)Hurries 
Circuits (v. 6)Patterns 
Whence (v. 7)Where 
Thither (v. 7)There 
Exercised therewith (v. 13)Troubled with 
Vexation (vv. 14, 17)Troubling 
Wanting (v. 15)Lacking 
Estate (v. 16)Inheritance 
Madness and folly (v. 17)Foolishness 

Ecclesiastes 2

Prove thee (v. 1)Test the idea that there is nothing but vanity in the world 
Mirth (vv. 1–2)Fun, enjoyment that comes from lighthearted activities with others 
What doeth it? (v. 2)What good does it do? 
Give myself unto wine (v. 3)Experiment to see if wine added any quality and meaning to life 
Yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom (v. 3)Still trying to learn wisdom 
Lay hold on folly (v. 3)Do foolish things 
Above (v. 7)More than 
Portion (vv. 10, 21)Wage or payment 
Wrought (vv. 11, 17)Made 
Folly (vv. 12–13)Foolishness 
Excelleth (v. 13)Is greater than 
Perceived (v. 14)Realized 
One event happeneth to them all (v. 14)Some things happen to everyone, no matter how wise or foolish the person is. 
Grievous (v. 17)Bad 
Travail (vv. 23, 26)Work 
Grief (v. 23)Sadness 
Heap up (v. 26)Store 

Studying the Scriptures

Do activities A and B as you study Ecclesiastes 1–2.

Activity A iconMake a List

List at least five items from Ecclesiastes 1–2 that the writer said should have made him happy but did not. After each item on your list, write the reference of the verse where you found it. You may want to highlight in your scriptures the five things you chose to list.

Activity B iconDo You Agree or Disagree?

Read Ecclesiastes 1:18. Write to the preacher and tell him why you agree or disagree with his statement there.