Ecclesiastes 1:17
New International Version
Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.

New Living Translation
So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind.

English Standard Version
And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

Berean Study Bible
So I set my mind to know wisdom and madness and folly; I learned that this, too, is a pursuit of the wind.

New American Standard Bible
And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind.

King James Bible
And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.

Christian Standard Bible
I applied my mind to know wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly; I learned that this too is a pursuit of the wind.

Contemporary English Version
Then I decided to find out all I could about wisdom and foolishness. Soon I realized that this too was as senseless as chasing the wind.

Good News Translation
I was determined to learn the difference between knowledge and foolishness, wisdom and madness. But I found out that I might as well be chasing the wind.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
I applied my mind to know wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly; I learned that this too is a pursuit of the wind.

International Standard Version
So I dedicated myself to learn about wisdom and knowledge, and about insanity and foolishness. And I discovered that this is also like chasing after the wind.

NET Bible
So I decided to discern the benefit of wisdom and knowledge over foolish behavior and ideas; however, I concluded that even this endeavor is like trying to chase the wind!

New Heart English Bible
I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also was a chasing after wind.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
I've used my mind to understand wisdom and knowledge as well as madness and stupidity. [Now] I know that this is [like] trying to catch the wind.

JPS Tanakh 1917
And I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly--I perceived that this also was a striving after wind.

New American Standard 1977
And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind.

Jubilee Bible 2000
And I gave my heart to know wisdom and knowledge and to know folly and those who are mad; I learned in the end that this also is vexation of spirit.

King James 2000 Bible
And I set my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is like grasping the wind.

American King James Version
And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.

American Standard Version
And I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also was a striving after wind.

Brenton Septuagint Translation
And my heart knew much—wisdom, and knowledge, parables and understanding: I perceived that this also is waywardness of spirit.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And I have given my heart to know prudence, and learning, and errors, and folly: and I have perceived that in these also there was labour, and vexation of spirit,

Darby Bible Translation
And I applied my heart to the knowledge of wisdom, and to the knowledge of madness and folly: I perceived that this also is a striving after the wind.

English Revised Version
And I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also was a striving after wind.

Webster's Bible Translation
And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.

World English Bible
I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also was a chasing after wind.

Young's Literal Translation
And I give my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I have known that even this is vexation of spirit;
Study Bible
With Wisdom Comes Sorrow
16I said to myself, “Behold, I have grown and increased in wisdom beyond all those before me who were over Jerusalem, and my mind has observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.” 17So I set my mind to know wisdom and madness and folly; I learned that this, too, is a pursuit of the wind. 18For with much wisdom comes much sorrow, and as knowledge grows, grief increases.…
Cross References
Ecclesiastes 1:13
And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on the sons of men, to keep them occupied!

Ecclesiastes 1:14
I have seen all the things that are done under the sun, and have found them all to be futile, a pursuit of the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:11
Yet when I considered all the works that my hands had accomplished and what I had toiled to achieve, I found everything to be futile, a pursuit of the wind; there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:12
Then I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly; for what more can the king's successor do than what has already been accomplished?

Ecclesiastes 2:17
So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. For everything is futile and a pursuit of the wind.

Ecclesiastes 4:4
I saw that all labor and success spring from a man's envy of his neighbor. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.

Ecclesiastes 4:6
Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and pursuit of the wind.

Ecclesiastes 6:9
Better what the eye can see than the wandering of desire. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.

Ecclesiastes 7:25
I directed my mind to understand, to explore, to search out wisdom and explanations, and to understand the stupidity of wickedness and the folly of madness.

Ecclesiastes 9:3
This is an evil in everything that is done under the sun: There is one fate for everyone. Furthermore, the hearts of men are full of evil and madness while they are alive, and afterward they join the dead.

Treasury of Scripture

And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.

i gave

Ecclesiastes 1:13
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.

Ecclesiastes 2:3,12
I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life…

Ecclesiastes 7:23-25
All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me…

i perceived

Ecclesiastes 2:10,11
And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour…







Lexicon
So I set
וָאֶתְּנָ֤ה (wā·’et·tə·nāh)
Conjunctive waw | Verb - Qal - Consecutive imperfect - first person common singular | third person feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 5414: To give, put, set

my mind
לִבִּי֙ (lib·bî)
Noun - masculine singular construct | first person common singular
Strong's Hebrew 3820: The heart, the feelings, the will, the intellect, centre

to know
לָדַ֣עַת (lā·ḏa·‘aṯ)
Preposition-l | Verb - Qal - Infinitive construct
Strong's Hebrew 3045: To know

wisdom
חָכְמָ֔ה (ḥāḵ·māh)
Noun - feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 2451: Wisdom

[and]
וְדַ֥עַת (wə·ḏa·‘aṯ)
Conjunctive waw | Verb - Qal - Infinitive construct
Strong's Hebrew 3045: To know

madness
הוֹלֵל֖וֹת (hō·w·lê·lō·wṯ)
Noun - feminine plural
Strong's Hebrew 1947: Madness

and folly;
וְשִׂכְל֑וּת (wə·śiḵ·lūṯ)
Conjunctive waw | Noun - feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 5531: Silliness

I learned
יָדַ֕עְתִּי (yā·ḏa‘·tî)
Verb - Qal - Perfect - first person common singular
Strong's Hebrew 3045: To know

that
זֶ֥ה (zeh)
Pronoun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 2088: This, that

this,
ה֖וּא (hū)
Pronoun - third person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 1931: He, self, the same, this, that, as, are

too,
שֶׁגַּם־ (šeg·gam-)
Pronoun - relative | Conjunction
Strong's Hebrew 1571: Assemblage, also, even, yea, though, both, and

is a pursuit
רַעְי֥וֹן (ra‘·yō·wn)
Noun - masculine singular construct
Strong's Hebrew 7475: Longing, striving

of the wind.
רֽוּחַ׃ (rū·aḥ)
Noun - common singular
Strong's Hebrew 7307: Wind, breath, exhalation, life, anger, unsubstantiality, a region of the sky, spirit
(17) Madness and folly are words we should not expect to find in this context, and accordingly some interpreters have attempted by variations of reading to substitute for them words of the same nature as "wisdom and knowledge," but see Ecclesiastes 2:12; Ecclesiastes 7:25. Taking the text as it stands, it means to know wisdom and knowledge fully by a study of their contraries. The word for "madness" is peculiar to this book, but the corresponding verb occurs frequently in other books.

Verse 17. - And I gave my heart. He reiterates the expression in order to emphasize his earnestness and energy in the pursuit of wisdom. And knowing, as St. Jerome says, that "contrariis contraria inteiliguntur," he studies the opposite of wisdom, and learns the truth by contrasting it with error. And to know madness and folly (Ecclesiastes 2:12). The former word, holeloth (intensive plural), by its etymology points to a confusion of thought, i.e. an unwisdom which deranges all ideas of order and propriety; and folly (hero sikluth), throughout the sapiential books, is identified with vice and wickedness, the contradictory of practical godliness. The LXX. has παραβολὰς καὶ ἐπιστήμην, "parables and knowledge," and some editors have altered the Hebrew text in accordance with this version, which they consider more suitable to the context. But Koheleth's standpoint is quite consistent. To use the words of St. Jerome in his 'Commentary,' "AEqualis studii fuit Salomoni, scire sapientiam et scientiam, et e regione errores et stultitiam, ut in aliis appetendis et aliis declinandis vera ejus sapientia probaretur." On the other hand, Den-Sirs gives a much-needed warning against touching pitch (Ecclus. 13:1), and argues expressly that "the knowledge of wickedness is not wisdom" (Ecclus. 19:22). Plumptre unnecessarily sees in the use of the term" madness 'an echo of the teaching of the Stoics, who regarded men's weaknesses as forms of insanity. The moralist had no need to travel beyond his own experience in order to learn that sin was the acme of unwisdom, a declension from reason which might well be called madness. The subject is handled by Cicero, 'Tusc. Disput.,' 3:4, 5. We are reminded of Horace's expression ('Carm.,' 2:7. 27) -

"Recepto Dulce mihi furere est amico." And Anacreon's (31.), Θέλω θέλω μανῆναι. Thus far we have had Koheleth's secret thoughts - what he communed with his own heart (ver. 16). The result of his studies was most unsatisfying I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit; or, a striving after wind, as ver. 14 Though the word is somewhat different. As such labor is wasted, for man cannot control issues. 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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