Usually when most people consider what is the best a person can do it involves sacrificing oneself in love to God or man however within some certain context it seems the best one can do is something different according to Solomon.

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. (ESV, Ecclesiastes 2:24)

My question is what is the kind or category of competing things that eating, drinking and enjoying work has the highest place? What are the scope of things considered that makes this the very 'best'?

2 Answers 2


I am not sure that there is actually a superlative in the Hebrew here. An alternate translation here (JPS Tanakh) reads:

There is nothing worthwhile for a man but to eat and drink and afford himself enjoyment within his means.

This verse is a follow-up to the rather discouraging verses that precede it:

For what does a man get for all the toiling and worrying he does under the sun? All his days his thoughts are grief and heartache ...

One Rabbinic interpretation (Rashi) sees 2:24 as a question:

Is it not good for a man that he eat and drink and show himself enjoyment in his toil? This too have I seen that it is from the hand of God.

That is, let him pay heed to performing justice and righteousness with the eating and the drinking, so it was said to Jehoiakim [Jeremiah 22:15]: Your father - did he not eat and drink and perform justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him.


The context is immediately at hand: verse 22 presents the setting as "under the sun". Ecclesiastes is largely (though not completely) understood by attending to the tags "under the sun" and "under Heaven". Under the sun, all is emptiness (vanity). Most of the book explores this setting and Solomon's explanations are disillusioned and negative. He is offering a mirror image of life in the Lord. But beyond that, he invites us to consider how unappealing and cross-wise life can sometimes seem even to the Lord's servant while reminding us that one's perspective is of the greatest importance.

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