Troublesome Topic: Who Wrote Ecclesiastes?

Ecclesiastes 1:1


The words of QOHELETH,

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the son


the king

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in JERUSALEM.   (See comments below.)


These words are from the one who calls together the assembly and speaks to the assembly because he has something to tell them that he has carefully studied. He is the son of THE ONE WHO IS LOVED; he is king in THE PLACE OF PEACEFUL FOUNDATIONS.  (See comments below.)

The interpretation of Ecclesiastes must be built on a proper understanding of who is speaking. It is for that reason that the author was careful to identify himself in 1:12, if not also in 1:1 and 1:2. He was purposeful in establishing his identity as the one who called together the assembly because he had some important things to share with them (this is the meaning of Qoheleth); he was revered for his wisdom and insight; he was also successful in everything he had attempted up to that point, and was extremely wealthy; he was king in Jerusalem, and was a son of David. In 12:9 the author of this work is shown to be the one known for setting in order many proverbs, i.e. the author of the proverbs we know from the book called Proverbs. There is only one person who could fill all the aspects of this description, and that was king Solomon.

“Qoheleth” is the Hebrew word used here and it means “the convener of the assembly,” or “the one who calls together the assembly;” it implies that he is also the one who speaks to the assembly. He studied things out carefully in order to have something worthwhile to tell the assembly. People of all social classes would come to listen to Solomon give discourses and proverbs. It is from this practice that many have chosen to translate this word as “the teacher” or “the preacher.” However, the meaning of the Hebrew word is most accurately expressed by the phrase “the convener of the assembly.”

Our title of the book, Ecclesiastes, is the Latin transliteration of the Greek word used to translate the Hebrew word “Qoheleth,” occurring here as the first part of the description of the author. The Greek word comes from two words, “called” + “out.” The “called out ones” are those who respond to the call to come and assemble themselves. This Greek word is the one used for the church in the New Testament; the church is those who have been “called out” and who assemble themselves together regularly. There is a noticeable similarity between the word Ecclesiastes and the word Ecclesiology, which is the study of the church. In Greek both words come from the same root.

I am convinced that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes and that Qoheleth was another one of his alternate names, of which there were several. He was given one name by his father (Solomon), one by God (Jedidiah – II Sam 12:25), one by his mother (Lemuel – Prov 31:1) and other names (such as Qoheleth and possibly even Agur) by the people. I believe the name Qoheleth was given to him by the people as a popular title of respect which emphasized his wisdom shared with those who came to hear him speak.

When he wrote about not trying to accumulate wealth, everyone knew this was coming from the guy who had accumulated so much wealth as to make some of it lose its value. When he wrote about keeping life simple rather than seeking great accomplishments, everyone knew it was coming from the one who had already climbed that mountain and reached the top, only to find that the view was not what he had expected it to be. His message was credible because he knew from experience how much earthly possessions and accomplishments are like a vapor.

The next lesson is: When Was Ecclesiastes Written?


1: Authorship

“Qoheleth” is the Hebrew word used here and it means “the convener of the assembly,” or “the one who calls together the assembly;” it implies that he is also the one who speaks to the assembly.

2: “the king”

This word is used in connection to, or closely related to, the “Convener of the assembly,” not to David. Yes, David was a king, but this statement is indicating that the Convener of the Assembly, the one who wrote this work, is also a king. This makes it clear which son of David is being referred to; it had to be Solomon.