White sand, with one lonely plant

Hello there Rosary lovers! In this post I will seek to help you understand the Bible book of Ecclesiastes. What is Ecclesiastes about?

Bear in mind that this is my OWN interpretation. But still, I think it can help us all, as it has helped me.

A unique writing

Ecclesiastes is one of the most unique books in the Bible. It doesn’t fit into any category, really. If you had to choose a genre it might be wisdom literature, or it may even be philosophy.

The title ‘Ecclesiastes’ is perhaps unfortunate, since this means nothing in English. This word comes from the original Hebrew word ‘Qoheleth’. Which can mean a number of things, such as ‘Teacher’, ‘Lecturer’, ‘Preacher’ or ‘Philosopher’.

I like English translations which emphasise the philosophical aspect of this book, calling this man the ‘Philosopher’. Because I think ultimately Philosophy is the most appriopriate thing that the author is trying to convey.

As a potential work of Philosophy, Ecclesiastes is maybe the most unique book in the Bible. There isn’t another book in the Bible that sits comfortably next to it, and it is in many ways a stand alone book.

In fact, if the Fathers of the Catholic Church had not discerned the God-inspired nature of this divine book, perhaps we would not even have it in our Bibles.

For this reason, it is well worth reading often, and reading a few times over and over. It contains priceless jewels of wisdom and philosophy, a good deal of which that can really only be found in this one book.

When I was a younger Christian, I once asked a middle-aged man what his favourite book of the Bible was. To my surprise, he responded: ‘Ecclesiastes’. When I asked why, he said: ‘Because I find myself going back to it again and again throughout life.’

I am now in my mid-30s, and I know what he means. Never has this book meant so much to me as it does now.

Seminal Philosophy

Ecclesiastes is filled with reality. It is book about the meaning of life and why we are here.

The author does not pull punches. He hits us hard with the reality of death, and the reality of where we are all going: into the ground.

And when we get there, we can’t do anything anymore. Everything we’ve spent our lives doing will seem to have been a waste of time. All our efforts will apparently go up in smoke.

All our working lives. All our time spent earning money. It’s all seemingly a waste, because all our money will end up in the hands of someone else.

All our pleasures that we enjoy so much, none of it gives any lasting happiness. None of it really means anything in the long run, it’s just temporary pleasure.

Everything goes on and on as it always has done, and there is nothing new under the sun. It’s all happened before and long after we are gone, it will all continue to happen all over again.

New people will be born, and share the same meaningless experiences as us all. We are born, we live, we work, we earn, we grow old, we die.

So much for human life!

Not to mention all of life’s terrible injustices. The poor are treated terribly, even when they have great wisdom. Foolish people end up running countries rather than smart and godly people with good characters.

And then there’s the truth that the fool and the wise person all end up in the same place, because we all will die. So what even is the point being a Philosopher, what is the point trying to earn wisdom and live a good life?

Truly, says the Philosopher, everything really does seem totally and utterly meaningless and ridiculous. Nothing makes sense, and there’s no rhyme or reason to it all.

This is one side of the Philosopher’s diatribe. He is cynical and negative. He is overwhelmingly pessimistic.

It is extremely hard for someone to argue much with these surface conclusions of the Philosopher.

In fact, a man no less great than Leo Tolstoy (perhaps Russia’s greatest ever novelist) studied Ecclesiastes, along with all the world’s philosophies and wisdom. After long and careful study, Tolstoy also agreed with Ecclesiastes: that life is ultimately meaningless.

These personal findings produced a great deal of turmoil in Tolstoy’s mind and he battled for years with them, but he could never escape this seemingly obvious conclusion.

And indeed, this seems to be all one can really conclude about life if God does not exist, or if God is an irrelevance to human life.

If Atheism is true, or if Agnosticism is a sensible worldview, then we have every right to be truly skeptical about life and what it means. Perhaps it really doesn’t mean anything, and perhaps there really is no significance to anything we do.

At all.

Perhaps …

But what if God does exist?

A lone person on a beach surrounded by the sun and cliffs

But then Ecclesiastes has another point-of-view, a viewpoint much more optimistic and hopeful.

The author knows that God exists, and this makes all the difference. Because if God exists, then everything we do ABSOLUTELY DOES mean something. EVERY ACTION has eternal significance, because we will be judged by God for how we have lived.

In fact, this is what we were made for: to reverence God and obey Him, to please God with our lives. And this is so serious that there is a judgment at the end of time when God will examine each of our lives and even our thoughts.

This is how Ecclesiastes concludes itself, but the reality of God is right through the book.

God is behind it all. He causes all the seasons. He gives us those precious moments of happiness that we all crave. God is always there and has planned all things from the beginning of time. No-one can fight against God, and no-one can alter his eternal will.

It is this sheer Reality of God – who is Reality – that makes human existence mean anything. It is the Reality of God which makes Reality and Existence itself mean anything.

Because God is BEING, God is REALITY, God is EXISTENCE. And thus, God is the absolute basis of all existence, including human existence and human life.

Our lives only mean something because of God.

Ultimately, it ALL really DOES matter, but only because God is REAL.

Make the most of life

One of the most beautiful encouragements that comes through Ecclesiastes is the importance – the sheer importance – of enjoying life. We should all make the very best of life, because one day it will all be over and we won’t get another chance.

Life is short, and youth doesn’t last very long. Young people ought to forget about worries and anxieties, and make the most of being young. Follow your heart, do what you want to do when you are young, because it won’t last forever.

And when we are adults, we ought to find employment that we enjoy. This will make life a lot more enjoyable!

And when we come home, we ought to enjoy our families, and enjoy good food and good drink, such as good wine.

Do things that make you happy! It is all a gift from God!

Life offers all of these things, and they are not random. They are explicitly GIFTS FROM GOD. So make the most of them, because there is no better way to spend life than to enjoy these things as gifts from the hand of God.

Life is hard enough and has enough to cause us distress after distress. These amazing things – good food, good drink, good pleasures – really help to make it seem like life really is good. It’s good to be alive 🙂

Anyway, those are my brief thoughts on this amazing book. Ecclesiastes is a book I’ve read countless times and it is a book I shall continue to read and explore for the rest of my life.

I hope you benefit from reading it, and I hope you have enjoyed this post. Most of all, I hope this post has helped you to enjoy your life that little bit more.

As a final note, as is obvious from this website, I am devoted to Mary’s holy Rosary. I can testify that the Rosary has HUGELY improved my quality of life. I enjoy life SO MUCH MORE thanks to the daily recitation of the Rosary.

I am not alone. There are loads of testimonies out there of how the Rosary has significantly improved the lives of those who pray it.

If you want to know more, please check out all our many posts on the Rosary.

God bless you!

4 Replies to “What is Ecclesiastes About?”

  1. I found this article on Ecclesiastes to be quite insightful. It’s interesting to see the contrast between the author’s initial pessimistic view of life and their optimistic view once they consider the existence of God. I’ve often wondered whether life has any meaning or purpose, and this article has given me a lot to think about. I’m curious to know more about the author’s perspective on the role of God in our lives and how that affects our understanding of the meaning of life.

    1. Thank you, yes I enjoyed writing this post.

      My own personal view is that I belief God’s role in our lives is all-important, and fundamental. I don’t believe there can be a real, objective meaning to human life without the existence of God, and faith in him.

  2. “Ecclesiastes” is a thought-provoking book in the Bible that delves into the existential questions of life, purpose, and the meaning of it all. It offers a unique perspective on the transient nature of human existence and encourages readers to reflect on the pursuit of wisdom, pleasure, and wealth. Through its poetic and philosophical style, “Ecclesiastes” invites us to contemplate the complexities of life and find solace in the wisdom of embracing faith and enjoying the simple pleasures that it offers. Dive into this profound book and explore its timeless messages of introspection and spiritual growth.

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