Ecclesiastes is among the most poetic books of the Old Testament, full of famous and resonant verses: ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity’; ‘A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance’; ‘I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind’. It is traditionally attributed to King Solomon (r. 970-930 BC), who advises us to avoid seeking happiness in worldly things and focus instead on the eternal truths.
The book poses many vital questions: Is life nonsense and suffering or bliss? Is there any meaning to our actions under the sun? What will happen at the end? Is there any advantage to wisdom? Why can’t a just regime be established? What are the relationships between happiness and wealth? What is the source of emotions and what do we know about desires? Can knowledge of death serve as a guide to life?
King Solomon does not instruct us to think like him, nor does he guide us towards a particular path. Ecclesiastes sends us on a journey into The Valley of Great Questions: Abel, man, world, labor, advantage, sun, goodness, time, light, evil spirit, wisdom, love, fear of God, death, and more…
Haim Shapira’s rich and rigorously informed analysis allows King Solomon’s voice to speak to us across the millennia, offering remarkably up-to-the-minute insights for people of all faiths and none. If you want advice about living a better life (and to learn about the meaning of life), would it not be wise to receive it from King Solomon – the wisest man of all time?