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Ecclesiastes 1:2

    Ecclesiastes 1:2 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    Vanity of vanities, said the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher; vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    All is to no purpose, said the Preacher, all the ways of man are to no purpose.

    Webster's Revision

    Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher; vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

    World English Bible

    "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher; "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher; vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

    Clarke's Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1:2

    Vanity of vanities - As the words are an exclamation, it would be better to translate, O vanity of vanities! Emptiness of emptinesses.

    True, substantial good is not to be found in any thing liable to change and corruption.

    The author referred to in the introduction begins his paraphrase thus: -

    "O vain deluding world! whose largest gifts

    Thine emptiness betray, like painted clouds,

    Or watery bubbles: as the vapor flies,

    Dispersed by lightest blast, so fleet thy joys,

    And leave no trace behind. This serious truth

    The royal preacher loud proclaims, convinced

    By sad experience; with a sigh repeats

    The mournful theme, that nothing here below

    Can solid comfort yield: 'tis all a scene.

    Of vanity, beyond the power of words

    To express, or thought conceive. Let every man


    Barnes' Notes on Ecclesiastes 1:2

    Vanity - This word הבל hebel, or, when used as a proper name, in Genesis 4:2, "Abel", occurs no less than 37 times in Ecclesiastes, and has been called the key of the book. Primarily it means "breath," "light wind;" and denotes what:

    (1) passes away more or less quickly and completely;

    (2) leaves either no result or no adequate result behind, and therefore

    (3) fails to satisfy the mind of man, which naturally craves for something permanent and progressive: it is also applied to:

    (4) idols, as contrasted with the Living, Eternal, and Almighty God, and, thus, in the Hebrew mind, it is connected with sin.

    In this book it is applied to all works on earth, to pleasure, grandeur, wisdom, the life of man, childhood, youth, and length of days, the oblivion of the grave, wandering and unsatisfied desires, unenjoyed possessions, and anomalies in the moral government of the world.

    Solomon speaks of the world-wide existence of "vanity," not with bitterness or scorn, but as a fact, which forced itself on him as he advanced in knowledge of men and things, and which he regards with sorrow and perplexity. From such feelings he finds refuge by contrasting this with another fact, which he holds with equal firmness, namely, that the whole universe is made and is governed by a God of justice, goodness, and power. The place of vanity in the order of Divine Providence - unknown to Solomon, unless the answer be indicated in Ecclesiastes 7:29 - is explained to us by Paul, Romans 8, where its origin is traced to the subjugation and corruption of creation by sin as a consequence of the fall of man; and its extinction is declared to be reserved until after the Resurrection in the glory and liberty of the children of God.

    Vanity of vanities - A well-known Hebrew idiom signifying vanity in the highest degree. Compare the phrase, "holy of holies."

    All - Solomon includes both the courses of nature and the works of man Ecclesiastes 1:4-11. Compare Romans 8:22.