Ecclesiastes 1:13
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind!

New Living Translation
I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race.

English Standard Version
And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.

New American Standard Bible
And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with.

King James Bible
And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
I applied my mind to seek and explore through wisdom all that is done under heaven. God has given people this miserable task to keep them occupied.

International Standard Version
I dedicated myself to using wisdom for study and discovery of everything that is done under heaven. God uses terrible things so human beings will struggle with life.

NET Bible
I decided to carefully and thoroughly examine all that has been accomplished on earth. I concluded: God has given people a burdensome task that keeps them occupied.

New Heart English Bible
I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under the sky. It is a heavy burden that God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
With all my heart I used wisdom to study and explore everything done under heaven. Mortals are weighed down with a terrible burden that God has placed on them.

JPS Tanakh 1917
And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven; it is a sore task that God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith.

New American Standard 1977
And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with.

Jubilee Bible 2000
And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven (this sore travail God has given to the sons of man that they be occupied in it).

King James 2000 Bible
And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this severe burden has God given to the sons of man to be afflicted with.

American King James Version
And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail has God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

American Standard Version
And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven: it is a sore travail that God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And I proposed in my mind to seek and search out wisely concerning all things that are done under the sun. This painful occupation hath God given to the children of men, to be exercised therein.

Darby Bible Translation
And I applied my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens: this grievous occupation hath God given to the children of men to weary themselves therewith.

English Revised Version
And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven: it is a sore travail that God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith.

Webster's Bible Translation
And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this grievous labor hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised with it.

World English Bible
I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under the sky. It is a heavy burden that God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with.

Young's Literal Translation
And I have given my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all that hath been done under the heavens. It is a sad travail God hath given to the sons of man to be humbled by it.
Study Bible
With Wisdom Comes Sorrow
12I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with. 14I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind.…
Cross References
Job 28:3
"Man puts an end to darkness, And to the farthest limit he searches out The rock in gloom and deep shadow.

Ecclesiastes 1:17
And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:23
Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 2:26
For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God's sight. This too is vanity and striving after wind.

Ecclesiastes 3:10
I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves.

Ecclesiastes 3:11
He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

Ecclesiastes 4:8
There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, "And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?" This too is vanity and it is a grievous task.

Ecclesiastes 7:25
I directed my mind to know, to investigate and to seek wisdom and an explanation, and to know the evil of folly and the foolishness of madness.

Ecclesiastes 8:16
When I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the task which has been done on the earth (even though one should never sleep day or night),

Ecclesiastes 8:17
and I saw every work of God, I concluded that man cannot discover the work which has been done under the sun. Even though man should seek laboriously, he will not discover; and though the wise man should say, "I know," he cannot discover.
Treasury of Scripture

And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail has God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

i gave

Ecclesiastes 1:17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: …

Ecclesiastes 7:25 I applied my heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, …

Ecclesiastes 8:9,16,17 All this have I seen, and applied my heart to every work that is …

Psalm 111:2 The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have …

Proverbs 2:2-4 So that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding…

Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all …

Proverbs 18:1,15 Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeks and intermeddles …

Proverbs 23:26 My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.

1 Timothy 4:15 Meditate on these things; give yourself wholly to them; that your …

this sore

Ecclesiastes 3:10 I have seen the travail, which God has given to the sons of men to …

Ecclesiastes 4:4 Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this …

Ecclesiastes 12:12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books …

Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return to …

to be exercised or to afflict them

(13) Gave my heart.--The phrase occurs again in this book (Ecclesiastes 1:17; Ecclesiastes 7:25; Ecclesiastes 8:9; Ecclesiastes 8:16) and often elsewhere. (See Daniel 10:12; 2Chronicles 11:16, &c) The heart among the Hebrews is regarded as the seat, not merely of the feelings, but of the intellectual faculties, and so the word is constantly used in what follows. "I gave my heart" is the same as "I applied my mind."

To seek.--Deuteronomy 13:14; Leviticus 10:16.

Search out.--Numbers 14:36; Numbers 14:38; Ecclesiastes 7:25.

Travail.--The word occurs again in this book (Ecclesiastes 2:23; Ecclesiastes 2:26; Ecclesiastes 3:10; Ecclesiastes 4:8; Ecclesiastes 5:3; Ecclesiastes 5:14; Ecclesiastes 8:16) but no-where else in the Old Testament, though kindred forms are common. The word itself is common in Rabbinical Hebrew, in the sense of business.

"To afflict them" (margin). This is too strong a translation; better, to travail therein.

Verse 13. - I gave my heart (ver. 17; Ecclesiastes 7:25; Daniel 10:12). The heart, in the Hebrew conception, was the seat, not of the affections only, but of the understanding and intellectual faculties generally. So the expression here is equivalent to "I applied my mind." To seek and search out. The two words are not synonymous. The former verb (דָּרַשׁ, darash) implies penetrating into the depth of an object before one; the other word (תּוּר, tur) taking a comprehensive survey of matters further away; so that two methods and scopes of investigation are signified. By wisdom; ἐν τῇ σοφίᾳ (Septuagint). Wisdom was the means or instrument by which he carried on his researches, which were directed, not merely to the collecting of facts, but to investigating the causes and conditions of things. Concerning all things that are done under heaven; i.e. men's actions and conduct, political, social, and private life. We have "under the sun" in ver. 9, and again in ver. 14. Here there is no question of physical matters, the phenomena of the material world, but only of human circumstances and interests. This sore travail (rather, this is a sore travail that) God hath given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. The word rendered "travail" (עִנְיָן, inyan) occurs often in this book (e.g., Ecclesiastes 2:23, 26, etc.), and nowhere else in the Old Testament. The same root is found in the word translated "exercised;" hence Wright has, "It is a woeful exercise which God has given to the sons of men wherewith to exercise themselves." If we keep to the word "travail," we may render, "to travail therein." It implies distracting business, engrossing occupation. Septuagint, περισπασμόν; Vulgate, occupationem. Man feels himself constrained to make this laborious investigation, yet the result is most unsatisfactory, as the next verse shows. "God" is here Elohim, and so throughout the book, the name Jehovah (the God of the covenant, the God of Israel) never once occurring. Those who regard Solomon as the author of the book account for this on the plea that the king, in his latest years, reflecting sadly on his backsliding and fall, shrank from uttering with his polluted lips the adorable Name once so often used with filial reverence and beloved. But the true reason is found in the design of Koheleth, which was to set forth, not so much Israel's position under the covenant, as the condition of man in the face of the God of nature. The idiosyncrasies and peculiar features of the chosen people are not the subject of his essay; he deals with a wider sphere; his theme is man in his relation to Divine providence; and for this power he uses that name, common alike to the true and false religions, Elohim, applied to the Supreme Being by believers and idolaters. And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom,.... As he had all advantages and opportunities, so he did not want for industry and application to obtain knowledge; he gave his mind to it; he took up a resolution not to be discouraged by any difficulties, but to break through them, if possible; he set about the work with great readiness and cheerfulness; he had a price in his hand to get wisdom, and he had a heart unto it; see Proverbs 17:16; and he pursued it with all diligence, with all his might and main: nor did he content himself with a superficial knowledge of things; but "searched" after the most recondite and abstruse learning, and penetrated into the utmost recesses of it, to find out all that was to be known; and this he did "by" using all the "wisdom" and sagacity, the light and strength of reason, and all those bright natural parts, which God had given him in a very extraordinary manner. And his inquiry was very extensive; it was

concerning all things that are done under heaven; into the nature of all things, animate and inanimate; trees, herbs, plants, fossils, minerals, and metals; beasts, birds, fish, and all creeping things; see 1 Kings 4:33; with everything else in nature: he sought to make himself master of all arts and sciences; to get knowledge of all trades and manufactures; to understand everything in politics, relating to kingdoms and states, and the government of them; to observe all the actions of men, wise and foolish, that he might know the difference, and be a judge of what was right and wrong. And his observation upon the whole is,

this sore travail hath God given to the sons of men, to be exercised therewith: he found by experience it was a heavy task, which God had put upon the children of men, to get wisdom and knowledge in the way it was to be gotten; which was very burdensome and wearisome to the flesh; nay, he found it was an (l) "evil business", as it may be rendered; or there was something sinful and criminal, which God suffered men in their pursuit after knowledge to fall into, and which their studies exposed them to; as to indulge a vain and sinful curiosity, to pry into things unlawful, and to be wise above what is written; or to be too anxious in attaining natural knowledge, to the neglect of things of great importance; or to abuse or trust in knowledge attained unto, or be vainly elated and puffed up with it. Or this may be understood of the evil of punishment, which God inflicts on men for the sin of eating of the tree of knowledge; and that as he is doomed to get his bread, so his knowledge, with the sweat of his brow, that is, with great pains and labour; which otherwise would have been more easily obtained: but this God has done to "afflict" or "humble" (m) men, as the word may be rendered; to afflict or punish them for sin; and to humble them by showing them how weak are the powers and faculties of their minds, that so much pains must be taken to get a small share of knowledge. The Targum is,

"and I saw all the works of the children of men obnoxious to an evil business; the Lord gave to the children of men, to be afflicted with it.''

(l) "occupationem malam", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius, Amama, Gejerus. (m) "ad affligendum", Montanus, Gejerus; "ut affligent se in ea", Vatablus, Rambachius; "ut ea humlies redderet", Tigurine version. 13. this sore travail—namely, that of "searching out all things done under heaven." Not human wisdom in general, which comes afterwards (Ec 2:12, etc.), but laborious enquiries into, and speculations about, the works of men; for example, political science. As man is doomed to get his bread, so his knowledge, by the sweat of his brow (Ge 3:19) [Gill].

exercised—that is, disciplined; literally, "that they may thereby chastise, or humble themselves."1:12-18 Solomon tried all things, and found them vanity. He found his searches after knowledge weariness, not only to the flesh, but to the mind. The more he saw of the works done under the sun, the more he saw their vanity; and the sight often vexed his spirit. He could neither gain that satisfaction to himself, nor do that good to others, which he expected. Even the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom discovered man's wickedness and misery; so that the more he knew, the more he saw cause to lament and mourn. Let us learn to hate and fear sin, the cause of all this vanity and misery; to value Christ; to seek rest in the knowledge, love, and service of the Saviour.
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