King Solomon wrote Kohelet which is about how material things aren't coming with you to the afterlife. and having material wealth isn't a great accomplishment. Yet he was a Ruler that had a legendary throne and a magnificent palace. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. He and his court ate hundreds of sheep and tens of oxen. He is the embodiment of wealth and riches. And the realization of not needing wealth has happened for hundreds and thousands of years before King Solomon. Humans have placed sentimental value on objects for quite some time. Also, G-d has told us that we need not be rich. And he limited the wealth of kings (which Solomon didn't comply with). What does Kohelet accomplish in a logical and intellectual manner? And in a divine manner? Some say that the things he did like make a Wonderful and magnificent throne was for G-d's glory then Why did King Solomon go against what G-D said (the limit of wives and horses)?

2 Answers 2


An answer as to the sense of "futility" and "vanity" etc. mentioned in Koheles vs his abundant wealth....

It says in Devarim Rabbah 1:5:

אִלּוּ אַחֵר אוֹמֵר (קהלת א, ב): הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים, הָיוּ אוֹמְרִים זֶה אֵין לוֹ פְּרוּטָה לֶאֱכֹל וְהוּא אוֹמֵר הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים, אֶלָּא שְׁלֹמֹה שֶׁכָּתוּב בּוֹ (מלכים א י, כז): וַיִּתֵּן הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶת הַכֶּסֶף בִּיְרוּשָׁלָיִם כַּאֲבָנִים, לָזֶה נָאֶה לוֹמַר הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים

That had anyone else said "הֲבֵ֤ל הֲבָלִים֙" - "All is futile" (Koheles 1:2), people would have remarked that he hasn't any money to eat, so he makes light of material wealth by saying "All is futile." However, since the vastly wealthy Shlomo HaMelech who made sliver as plentiful in Yerushalayim as stones (see Melachim alef 10:27) it was suitable to say, "All is futile".

As far as him taking so many wives, Batei Midrashos 2:451 (continues over the page) provides his line of thinking. Shlomo reasoned that if he had 1000 wives, that would give him 1000 sons a year, resulting in 20,000 in 20 years, in which case no one would be able to overpower him.

Additionally, a simple answer as to why he proceeded to have many wives, horses and wealth is provided by the Midrash in Shir HaShirim Rabbah 1:10:

One of the names of Shlomo was Lemuel (למואל) a contraction of the words נם לא-ל - 'for he spoke to G-d' - the idea being that despite taking many wives, horses and money, he did not feel that he would go astray and sin:

לְמוּאֵל, שֶׁנָּם לָאֵל בְּכָל לִבּוֹ, אָמַר יָכוֹל אֲנִי לְהַרְבּוֹת וְלֹא לַחֲטוֹא

Lemuel - since he spoke to G-d with all his heart. He said, "I am able to have many (i.e. wives, horses & money) and won't sin.


"What does Kohelet accomplish in a logical and intellectual manner?"

"The end of the matter, all having been heard: fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole man. For God shall bring every work into the judgment concerning every hidden thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil." 12:13-14 JPS 1917 Translation

The end of the matter is the conclusion the book builds up to. Solomon starts the book by saying that everything is empty, a chasing after wind. He then goes through the experiences of his life, illustrating his introductory statement by describing how every pursuit was in vain. At the end of his life it seems, he reaches his conclusion. There is one thing that isn't worthless, one thing necessary: "Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole man."

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