Ecclesiastes 2:4 MEANING

Ecclesiastes 2:4
(4) Houses.--1 Kings 5:11; 2 Chronicles 8:4.

Vineyards.--1 Chronicles 27:27; Song of Solomon 8:11.

Verse 4. - This commences a new experience in the pursuit of his object. Leaving this life of self-indulgence, he takes to art and culture, the details being drawn from the accounts of the historical Solomon. I made me great works; literally, I made great my works; Septuagint, Ἐμεγάλυνα ποίημά per; Vulgate, Magnificavi opera mea. Among these works the temple, with all its wonderful structural preparations, is not specially mentioned, perhaps because no one could think of Solomon without connecting his name with this magnificent building, and it was superfluous to call attention to it; or else because the religious aspect of his operations is not here in question, but only his taste and pursuit of beauty. But the omission tells strongly against the Solomonic authorship of the book. I builded me houses. Solomon had a passion for erecting magnificent buildings. We have various accounts of his works of this nature in 1 Kings 7. and 9; 2 Chronicles 8. There was the huge palace for himself, which occupied thirteen years in building; there was the "house of the forest of Lebanon," a splendid hall constructed with pillars of cedar; the porch of pillars; the hall of judgment; the harem for the daughter of Pharaoh. Then there were fortresses, store-cities, chariot-towns, national works of great importance; cities in distant lands which he founded, such as Tadmor in the wilderness. I planted me vineyards. David had vineyards and olive yards (1 Chronicles 27:27, 28), which passed into the possession of his son; and we read in Song of Solomon 8:11 of a vineyard that Solomon had in Baal-hamon, which some identify with Belamon (Judith 8:3), a place near Shunem, in the Plain of Esdraelon.

2:1-11 Solomon soon found mirth and pleasure to be vanity. What does noisy, flashy mirth towards making a man happy? The manifold devices of men's hearts, to get satisfaction from the world, and their changing from one thing to another, are like the restlessness of a man in a fever. Perceiving it was folly to give himself to wine, he next tried the costly amusements of princes. The poor, when they read such a description, are ready to feel discontent. But the remedy against all such feelings is in the estimate of it all by the owner himself. All was vanity and vexation of spirit: and the same things would yield the same result to us, as to Solomon. Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content. His wisdom remained with him; a strong understanding, with great human knowledge. But every earthly pleasure, when unconnected with better blessings, leaves the mind as eager and unsatisfied as before. Happiness arises not from the situation in which we are placed. It is only through Jesus Christ that final blessedness can be attained.I made me great works,.... He did not spend his time in trifling things, as Domitian (a), in catching and killing flies; but in devising, designing, directing, and superintending great works of art and skill, becoming the grandeur of his state, and the greatness of his mind: the Midrash restrains it to his great throne of ivory, overlaid with gold, 1 Kings 10:18, but it is a general expression, including all the great things he did, of which the following is a particular enumeration;

I builded me houses; among which must not be reckoned the house of God, though that was built by him, and in the first place; yet this was built, not for his own pleasure and grandeur, but for the worship and glory of God: but his own house and palace is chiefly meant, which was thirteen years in building; and the house of the forest in Lebanon, which perhaps was his country seat; with all other houses and offices, for his stores, for his servants, his horsemen, and chariots; see 1 Kings 7:1; and in fine spacious buildings men take a great deal of pleasure, and promise themselves much happiness in dwelling in them, and in perpetuating their names to posterity by them; see Psalm 49:11. The Targum is,

"I multiplied good works in Jerusalem; I builded me houses; the house of the sanctuary, to make atonement for Israel; the king's house of refreshment, and the conclave and porch; and the house of judgment, of hewn stones, where the wise men sit and do judgment; I made a throne of ivory for the royal seat;''

I planted me vineyards; perhaps those at Engedi were of his planting; however, he had one at Baalhamon, and no doubt in other places, Sol 1:14; the Targum makes mention of one at Jabne, planted by him; these also add to the pleasure of human life; it is delightful to walk in them, to gather the fruit and drink of the wine of them; see Sol 7:12.

(a) Sueton. Vit. Domitian. c. 3. Aurel. Victor. De. Caesar. & Epitome.

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