Ecclesiastes 1:2 "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless."

Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart.

Solomon had power, money, women, and intelligence. Yet, he said everything is utterly meaningless. He yearned to fill this empty spot in his heart.

Is the Hebrew word for meaningless in Ecclesiastes 1:2 the opposite of the word for eternity in Ecclesiastes 3:11?

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    For Ecclesiastes 3:11 The KJV has 'the world in their heart' and YLT has 'the whole in their heart'. Your question hangs on the translation of הָעוֹלָ֖ם. Another translation Biblehub Strong 5769 is 'ever'. He has 'ever set in their heart'.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 7:51

1 Answer 1


Is the Hebrew word for "meaningless" (vanity) in Ecclesiastes 1:2 the opposite of the word for "eternity" (beautiful) in Ecclesiastes 3:11?

Kohelet 1:2 [MT] "Vanity of vanities, said Koheleth; vanity of vanities, all is vanity." (הֲבֵ֤ל הֲבָלִים֙ אָמַ֣ר קֹהֶ֔לֶת הֲבֵ֥ל הֲבָלִ֖ים הַכֹּ֥ל הָֽבֶל)
  • In Hebrew "הָֽבֶל" (Havel) means Vanity or Meaningless [Ecclesiastes 1]. Havel (הָ֑בֶל) also means "Breath" in [Isaiah 57:13]. Havel is temporary.
Kohelet 3:11 [MT] : "He has made everything beautiful in its time; also the [wisdom of] the world He put into their hearts, save that man should not find the deed which God did, from beginning to end." (אֶת־הַכֹּ֥ל עָשָׂ֖ה יָפֶ֣ה בְעִתּ֑וֹ גַּ֤ם אֶת־הָֽעֹלָם֙ נָתַ֣ן בְּלִבָּ֔ם מִבְּלִ֞י אֲשֶׁ֧ר לֹֽא־יִמְצָ֣א הָֽאָדָ֗ם אֶת־הַֽמַּֽעֲשֶׂ֛ה אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֥ה הָֽאֱלֹהִ֖ים מֵרֹ֥אשׁ וְעַד־סֽוֹף )
  • In [Ecclesiastes 3:11] the Hebrew word 'Yafeh" ( יָפֶ֣ה) means Beautiful. Vanity (הָֽבֶל) is not Beautiful ( יָפֶ֣ה) in the Hebrew context. Beauty does not fade.
  • This answer contains no reference to established, authorised sources. Also, the question is about both 'meaningless' and 'eternity', which the answer does not address.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 16:47

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