Ecclesiastes 1:16 (GNT): I told myself, "I have become a great man, far wiser than anyone who ruled Jerusalem before me. I know what wisdom and knowledge really are."

The author presents himself as the son of King David, who ruled in Jerusalem. So the only ones who "ruled Jerusalem before him" were:

  • King David - who is a single person and does not fit the expression "anyone who ruled...".
  • The Knaanite kings - Adonizedek and Malkizedek - who were not known as particularly wise, and so do not justify the expression "far wiser than... ".

Does this expression prove that Ecclesiastes is actually not the direct son of King David (i.e. King Solomon), but a further descendant? If so, which descendant can this be?

  • . . . . unless, of course, it is the Holy Spirit speaking (through the writer) anticipating the coming of Messiah and expressing (as Messiah) something retrospectively.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 8, 2020 at 19:45
  • @NigelJ Interesting interpretation. I also thought that the speaker may be the Messiah, who is said to be very wise (Isaiah 11). However, this does not fit the past tense in 1:12 "I was king over Israel in Jerusalem". It also does not fit the pursuit of carnal pleasures in Ecclesiastes 2. Oct 8, 2020 at 20:02
  • Sometimes the prophetic and the pragmatic are voiced in sequence.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 8, 2020 at 20:05
  • @NigelJ [BTW the link in your profile belmontpublications.co.uk does not work] Oct 8, 2020 at 20:34
  • The link is to Belmont Publications I have just checked it from the profile and it is functioning correctly. (belmontpublications.co.uk)
    – Nigel J
    Oct 8, 2020 at 21:06

1 Answer 1


If, for the moment, we assume that the author of Ecclesiastes is Solomon, then the known rulers of Jerusalem before him, of which Solomon was far wiser were:

  • King David
  • Melchizedek, king of "Salem", one of the early names of Jerusalem from the the latter is derived. See Gen 14:18-20, Ps 110:4.
  • Adoni-zedek, Josh 10:1-10
  • The unknown rulers of the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem, Josh 15:63, 18:28, 19:10, 1 Chron 11:4, 5.

Eccl 1:16 only requires that the author of Ecclesiastes be far wiser than his predecessors which he obviously was. It is not necessary that any of the previous rulers of Jerusalem be wise.

  • From a formal logic perspective you are right, but what is the point in saying "I am wiser than those who were before me", if they were not known to be wise at all? Compare, for example, 1 Kings 4:31: "He was the wisest of all men: wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame spread throughout all the neighboring countries. ". There, Solomon's wisdom is compared to famous wise men, not to anonymous Knaanite kings. Oct 8, 2020 at 21:36
  • @ErelSegal-Halevi - that is just Hebrew idiom - if one is wiser than all before, then clearly he is wisest of all. Quite simple really. In any case, Melchizedek was a wise ruler to whom Abraham gave tithes.
    – Dottard
    Oct 8, 2020 at 21:53
  • King Saul ruled in Gibeah. King David ruled in Hebron until he conquered Jerusalem.
    – Perry Webb
    Oct 10, 2020 at 11:28
  • @PerryWebb - quite correct. My error - I shall fix this.
    – Dottard
    Oct 10, 2020 at 19:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.