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Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 2

Study of Pleasure-seeking. I said in my heart,[a] “Come, now, let me try you with pleasure and the enjoyment of good things.” See, this too was vanity. Of laughter I said: “Mad!” and of mirth: “What good does this do?” Guided by wisdom,[b] I probed with my mind how to beguile my senses with wine and take up folly, until I should understand what is good for human beings to do under the heavens during the limited days of their lives.

I undertook great works; I built myself houses and planted vineyards; I made gardens and parks, and in them set out fruit trees of all sorts. And I constructed for myself reservoirs to water a flourishing woodland. I acquired male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I also owned vast herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, more than all who had been before me in Jerusalem. I amassed for myself silver and gold, and the treasures of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male and female singers and delights of men, many women.[c] I accumulated much more than all others before me in Jerusalem; my wisdom, too, stayed with me. 10 Nothing that my eyes desired did I deny them, nor did I deprive myself of any joy; rather, my heart rejoiced in the fruit of all my toil. This was my share for all my toil. 11 But when I turned to all the works that my hands had wrought, and to the fruit of the toil for which I had toiled so much, see! all was vanity and a chase after wind. There is no profit under the sun.


  1. 2:1–11 The author here assumes the role of Solomon who, as king, would have had the wealth and resources at his disposal to acquire wisdom and engage in pleasurable pursuits. Verses 4–8 in particular, with their description of abundant wealth and physical gratifications, parallel the descriptions in 1 Kgs 4–11 of the extravagances of Solomon’s reign.
  2. 2:3 Guided by wisdom: using all the means money can buy, the author sets out on a deliberate search to discover if pleasure constitutes true happiness.
  3. 2:8 Many women: the final phrase of this verse is difficult to translate. One word, shiddah, which appears here in both singular and plural, is found nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible. A suggested meaning is “woman” or “concubine,” as it is interpreted here: “many women.” The rest of the section (2:1–12) seems to be a description of Solomon’s kingdom, and the “many women” would represent his huge harem (1 Kgs 11:1–3). In rabbinic Hebrew the word comes to mean “chest” or “coffer.”
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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