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Ecclesiastes 1:1 | Word Study

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, King in Jerusalem. Eccl. 1.1 (KJV)

The ‘words’ is derived from dāḇār דָּבָר(H1679)[1] meaning ‘a thing’ or ‘a matter.’ In context of its root word דָּבַר (H1696)[2], dāḇār could be defined as ‘a word; by implication a matter (as spoken of) of thing; adverbially a cause.’[3] By extension, the word is also used in relation to business, occupation, et cetera. In other words, it could also be seen as important instructions for executing an important task. In the context of this verse, we may probably seek its meaning to be stating – a speech or utterances about an important (or profound) matter. In KJV’s usage, it also means – to act, advice, et cetera.[4] In Old Testament, these words occur as a way to introduce a collection of sayings. (Bartholomew, 2009, 88)

‘Preacher’ is derived from qôheleth קֹהֶלֶת (H6953). It means ‘collector of sentences.’[5] The root word, qāhal קָהַל (H6950)[6] means ‘to assemble.’[7] The preacher (in the least controversial way) can be understood as a persona adopted in the likeness of a Davidic King (Provan, 2001, 53); with a purpose of addressing the descendants of David.[8] This persona can also be understood as a royal fiction. (Bartholomew) The root word qāhal is a feminine verb and it seems to suggest the same character as that of wisdom in Proverbs 1-9. In this reading, the preacher could also be presented as ‘one who gathers material for education… (a) teacher to the public.’ (Bartholomew)

The ‘son’ is derived from bēn בֵּן (H1121) meaning son, member of a group… of a nation.[9] Its root word bānâ בָּנָה (H1129), which is a verb, and it means, to build, rebuild, establish, cause to continue.[10]


A few things we can infer: (1) that it is collection of sayings, its content seems to be of wisdom, and of utmost importance, (2) it seems to be attributed to a royal fiction, to emphasis on the importance of the work, (3) the work seems to be of importance as its effective purpose is to strengthened, build, rebuild, and substantiate the continuation of the Davidic heritage – vis-à-vis, the body of believers.

Image: Gustave Doré, Jonah Preaches to the Ninevites (1866)


Bartholomew, C. (2009). Ecclesiastes, Baker Academic

Provan, I. (2001). Ecclesiastes/Song of Songs: The New Application Commentary, Zondervan








[8] Scriptural references: 1:1, 2, 12; 7:27; 12:8, 9, 10




If you have lingering sin in your life, or if you keep neglecting some good deed just because you have been waiting around to be saved without a fight, you are compounding your disobedience. God will never appear with power in your will in any other way than through your exercise of that will; that is, through your good resolves — your good intentions and plans and purposes.

So, people who believe in the sovereignty of God must not fear to engage their wills in the struggle for holiness.

John Piper, Good Works through Good Resolve


Thus it remains true to the word of Augustine that the heart of man was created for God and that it finds no rest until it is at rest in his father’s heart. All people actually seek God, the same Church Father testified, but they do not seek Him in the right way, not in the right place. They seek Him below, and He is above. They seek Him on earth, and He is in heaven. They seek Him far away, and He is near. They seek him in money, in goods, in glory, in power, in lust: and he dwells on high, and in the holy place, and with him that is of a lowly and lowly spirit, Isa. 57:15. But still they seek Him, if they may seek Him and find Him, Acts 17:27. They seek him and at the same time they flee from him. They have no desire to know His ways, and yet they cannot miss Him. They feel attracted to God and at the same time repelled by Him.

Bavinck, H. (1909). Magnalia Dei, 15