Ecclesiastes, Or The Preacher(Heb. Kohe-leth, assembler), one of the didactic books of the Old Testament canon, professing to be the words of the preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. It contains allusions to the writer's riches, palaces, and parables, and its sententious style reminds one of the author of the Proverbs. Yet its diction is marked by Chal-daisms and linguistic usages which are thought not to have been introduced into the Hebrew language till about the period of the Babylonish captivity. The authorship of Eccle-siastes was attributed to Solomon by nearly all the rabbinic commentators and patristic writers; but in modern times this view has been relinquished by all the writers of the various liberal schools without exception, and even by theologians like Hengstenberg, Stuart, and Keil; in fact, no prominent theologian of the 19th century has defended it. According to Hengstenberg and Keil, the book was compiled in the time of Nehemiah; according to Hitzig, about 200 B. 0.; and according to Gratz, not until the Herodian time. Some entertain the opinion that its original form must have been a dialogue in which the sage carries on a discussion with a skeptic and a libertine.
Yet it is more commonly regarded as the monologue of a Hebrew moralizing on life and searching for the highest good, scanning the perversities and follies of man, and at length, after a review of the evidence, declaring the verdict that obedience to God is the only real and substantial good. - Among the best commentaries on this book are those of Knobel (1836), Hitzig (1847), Stuart (New York, 1851), Elster (1855), Vai-hinger (1858), Hengstenberg (1859; English translation, 1860), Ginsburg (London, 1861), Ewald (2d ed., 1867), and Gratz (1871).