Ecclesiastes 1:16

Futility of Secular Wisdom

1:16 I thought to myself,

“I have become much wiser than any of my predecessors who ruled over Jerusalem;

I have acquired much wisdom and knowledge.”

Ecclesiastes 2:9

2:9 So I was far wealthier than all my predecessors in Jerusalem,

yet I maintained my objectivity:


tn Heb “I spoke, I, with my heart.”

tn Heb “I, look, I have made great and increased wisdom.” The expression הִגְדַּלְתִּי וְהוֹסַפְתִּי (higdalti vÿhosafti) is a verbal hendiadys; it means that Qoheleth had become the wisest man in the history of Jerusalem.

tn The phrase “who ruled” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4.

tn Heb “my heart” (לִבִּי, libbi). The term “heart” is a metonymy of part for the whole (“my heart” = myself).

tn Heb “My heart has seen much wisdom and knowledge.”

tn The vav prefixed to וְגָדַלְתִּי (vÿgadalti, vav + Qal perfect first common singular from גָּדַל, gadal, “to be great; to increase”) functions in a final summarizing sense, that is, it introduces the concluding summary of 2:4-9.

tn Heb “I became great and I surpassed” (וְהוֹסַפְתִּי וְגָדַלְתִּי, vÿgadalti vÿhosafti). This is a verbal hendiadys in which the second verb functions adverbially, modifying the first: “I became far greater.” Most translations miss the hendiadys and render the line in a woodenly literal sense (KJV, ASV, RSV, NEB, NRSV, NAB, NASB, MLB, Moffatt), while only a few recognize the presence of hendiadys here: “I became greater by far” (NIV) and “I gained more” (NJPS).

tn Heb “yet my wisdom stood for me,” meaning he retained his wise perspective despite his great wealth.