Who Wrote Ecclesiastes In the Bible?


Ecclesiastes is the twenty-first book of the Old Testament. In modern Bibles, it appears with other books that belong to the category of wisdom and poetry literature, like Job, Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Solomon. Ecclesiastes has many memorable verses and passages, making it a favorite book for many Bible readers. Its intrigue leads many people to wonder who its author is.

Solomon is the author of Ecclesiastes according to the traditional view. Though the book is technically anonymous, certain descriptions in it lead many to conclude that Solomon wrote it, such as the author being a king and known for wisdom. Others think the author is writing in the spirit of Solomon.

What does Ecclesiastes reveal about its author? How do its descriptions fit with what the Bible says about Solomon? Why do some scholars reject Solomon as the book’s author? Who do they propose wrote it? What is Solomon best known for? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

Ecclesiastes 3
What was Solomon’s relationship to David? See below

What Does Ecclesiastes Say About Who Wrote It?

The book of Ecclesiastes is full of wisdom, insight, and instruction for life. It encourages readers to fear God even though they live in a fallen world. The author teaches that the way of the world is foolishness, so he implores believers to remember God and make him their priority over all other pursuits.

Many readers of Ecclesiastes wonder who wrote the book. While no verse in the book mentions Solomon, no other name appears. Therefore, whoever a person holds the book’s author to be, must be compiled from the allusions and hints inside it.

The Author Was the King Of Jerusalem

The first verse of Ecclesiastes reads, “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem” (1:1, ESV). The statement reveals three facts about the author:

  1. He was a “preacher” (ESV, KJV) or “teacher” (NIV, CSB).
  2. His father was David.
  3. He was king in Jerusalem in Israel.

The Bible teaches Solomon was the 10th son of David and the third king of Israel. Given the nature of his writing in the books of Proverbs and Song of Solomon, which clearly identifies him as the author (Prov. 1:1; Song 1:1), it’s correct to describe him as a teacher or preacher. Therefore, Solomon fits all three descriptions.

996 B.C.Solomon is born
970 B.C.Solomon becomes king
930 B.C.Solomon dies

The Author Had Unparalleled Wisdom

Though part of Solomon’s legacy includes his weaknesses (see below), he is best known for having unparalleled wisdom. What the author of Ecclesiastes says about his wisdom matches what 1 Kings reveals about Solomon’s wisdom, supporting him as the book’s author.

In the introductory passage of Ecclesiastes, the author reflects on the wisdom God gave him: “I said in my heart, ‘I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge'” (1:16, ESV).

1 Kings chapters 1-11 include more information about Solomon’s life than any other book of the Bible. (There are also parallel passages in 2 Chronicles 1-9).

One of the pivotal moments of Solomon’s life is when he asks God for wisdom. “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?’ (1 Kings 3:9).

Solomon’s request pleased God because he prioritized requesting wisdom over asking for a long life or material possession. God responded, “Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you” (1 Kings 3:12).

Book of Ecclesiastes
Why do some reject Solomon as Ecclesiastes’ author? See below

Who Wrote Ecclesiastes If Not Solomon?

Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman rejects Solomon as the author of Ecclesiastes for reasons like those described below. As for who the author is, Longman writes, “Unfortunately, we can say little. He (or conceivably she) is probably a wisdom teacher.” [1]

Like Longman, most scholars who reject Solomon’s authorship don’t have another specific suggestion for who wrote the book. Instead, they remind readers that the book is anonymous and argue that someone, or even a group of people, wrote in the spirit of Solomon, probably long after his death.

Those who reject Solomon as the author of Ecclesiastes offer various reasons for their view. Here are three examples:

(1) The Bible uses the phrase “son of David” (1:1) more broadly than just referring to one of David’s children (e.g., Matt. 1:20). Those who accept Solomon’s authorship respond that when considered with the other references to the author (e.g., him being a king), the phrase fits Solomon best.

(2) Some scholars argue that the original Hebrew language of Ecclesiastes is different than it was in Solomon’s day. Those who accept Solomon’s authorship respond that the book’s early readers could have updated some terminology and grammar.

(3) Some references make it seem like the author refers to a long line of leaders who lived before him, though Solomon was just the third king of Israel. For example, Ecclesiastes 2:7 reads, “I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem” (emphasis added). Others respond that the reference is too vague to argue against Solomon’s authorship.

Old Testament Ecclesiastes
When did Jesus mention Solomon? See below

What Is Solomon Known For?

Solomon is known for more than just his wisdom. He is also famous for his other strengths, like his administration of building projects like the temple, and his weaknesses, such as his relationships with hundreds of women.

Solomon’s mother was Bathsheba. Solomon was the second born to David and Bathsheba. “Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the Lord loved him” (2 Sam. 12:24).

He was a writer. The first verse in Proverbs and Song of Solomon identifies Solomon as the author. 1 Kings 4:32 adds, “He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005.”

He was a great builder. Solomon’s most well-known building project was the temple he constructed as the center for Israel’s worship. Its importance is partly seen in that four of the eleven chapters devoted to Solomon’s life in 1 Kings describe the temple’s construction (Ch. 5-8).

He was in the family line of Jesus. The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel reads, “…and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph…” (Matt. 1:6-7).

Jesus mentions him. Jesus refers to Solomon in his teaching about worry (Matt. 6:29; Luke 12:27). In another passage, he refers to himself as greater than Solomon (Matt. 12:42; Luke 11:31).

Stephen mentions Solomon. In the famous speech Stephen gave before persecutors stoned him to death, he summarized God’s work in history. After he mentions David, he says that his son built the temple. “So it was until the days of David, who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him” (Acts 7:45-47).

References:
[1] The Book of Ecclesiastes by Tremper Longman. NICOT. p. 9.
[2] Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. p. 1486-1487.

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see the About page for details.

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