Ecclesiastes 1:17
Parallel Verses
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.

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.

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.

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;

Ecclesiastes 1:17 Parallel
Commentary
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

To know madness and folly - הוללות ושכלות holloth vesichluth. Παραβολας και επιστημην, "Parables and science." - Septuagint. So the Syriac; nearly so the Arabic.

"What were error and foolishness." - Coverdale. Perhaps gayety and sobriety may be the better meaning for these two difficult words. I can scarcely think they are taken in that bad sense in which our translation exhibits them. "I tried pleasure in all its forms; and sobriety and self-abnegation to their utmost extent." Choheleth paraphrases, "Even fools and madmen taught me rules."

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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...

Ecclesiastes 2:3,12 I sought in my heart to give myself to wine, yet acquainting my heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly...

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

1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

i perceived

Ecclesiastes 2:10,11 And whatever my eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labor...

Library
Two views of Life
'This sore travail hath God given to the sons of man, to be exercised therewith.--ECCLES. i. 13. 'He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.'--HEBREWS xii. 10. These two texts set before us human life as it looks to two observers. The former admits that God shapes it; but to him it seems sore travail, the expenditure of much trouble and efforts; the results of which seem to be nothing beyond profitless exercise. There is an immense activity and nothing to show for it at the end
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Eusebius' Birth and Training. His Life in Cæsarea Until the Outbreak of the Persecution.
Our author was commonly known among the ancients as Eusebius of Cæsarea or Eusebius Pamphili. The former designation arose from the fact that he was bishop of the church in Cæsarea for many years; the latter from the fact that he was the intimate friend and devoted admirer of Pamphilus, a presbyter of Cæsarea and a martyr. Some such specific appellation was necessary to distinguish him from others of the same name. Smith and Wace's Dictionary of Christian Biography mentions 137
Eusebius Pamphilius—Church History

How to Make Use of Christ as the Truth, for Growth in Knowledge.
It is a commanded duty, that we grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, 2 Pet. iii. 18; and the knowledge of him being life eternal, John xvii. 3, and our measure of knowledge of him here being but imperfect, for we know but in part, it cannot but be an useful duty, and a desirable thing, to be growing in this knowledge. This is to walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, to be increasing in the knowledge of God, Col. i. 10. Knowledge must be added to virtue; and it layeth a ground for other Christian
John Brown (of Wamphray)—Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life

Joy
'The fruit of the Spirit is joy.' Gal 5:52. The third fruit of justification, adoption, and sanctification, is joy in the Holy Ghost. Joy is setting the soul upon the top of a pinnacle - it is the cream of the sincere milk of the word. Spiritual joy is a sweet and delightful passion, arising from the apprehension and feeling of some good, whereby the soul is supported under present troubles, and fenced against future fear. I. It is a delightful passion. It is contrary to sorrow, which is a perturbation
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

Cross References
Ecclesiastes 1:13
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!

Ecclesiastes 1:14
I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:11
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:12
Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly. What more can the king's successor do than what has already been done?

Ecclesiastes 2:17
So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 4:4
And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person's envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 4:6
Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.

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