Commentaries on Ecclesiastes

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Order of Contents  40+

Best  12
Commentaries  25
Early Church  8
Jewish  3
By Subject  1
Chapters  3
Latin  1



The Best Commentaries on Ecclesiastes


Ferguson, Sinclair – The Pundit’s Folly: Chronicles of an Empty Life  Buy  (Banner of Truth, 1995)  95 pp.  ToC

This wonderful little booklet encapsulates the teachings of Ecclesiastes in an engaging, pungent, and contemporary style.


Intermediate, 1800’s

Bridges, Charles – An Exposition of the Book of Ecclesiastes  (1860)

*** – “After the manner of other works by this devout author, who is always worth consulting, though he gives us nothing very new.” – Spurgeon

‘A series of sermons on each verse.  Deeply devotional, but manifesting a weakness in the exposition of the successive stages of the Biblical writer’s thought.’ – Cyril J. Barber

Buchanan, Robert – Ecclesiastes; its Meaning & its Lessons, Explained & illustrated  (1859)

Buchanan was of the Free Church of Scotland.

*** – “Dr. Buchanan has endeavored in every instance to give the true meaning of the text.  His explanations were composed for the pulpit and delivered there.  The work is most important, but strikes us as lacking in liveliness of style.” – Spurgeon

Hamilton, James – The Royal Preacher; Lectures on Ecclesiastes  (1851)

Hamilton was a prolific author and a minister in the Church of Scotland.  Before the Disruption he was an assistant to Robert Candlish.  After 1841 remained pastor of the National Scotch Church in London.

*** – “We have had a great treat in reading this prose poem.  It is a charming production.” – Spurgeon

Kitto, John – 11th Week, Saturday – 12th Week, Friday  in Daily Bible Illustrations: being Original Readings for a Year, on Subjects Relating to Sacred History, Biography, Geography, Antiquities & Theology  (Job-Song), vol. 5, pp. 349-80

***  ‘Worthy of attentive reading’  ‘They are not exactly a commentary, but what marvelous expositions you have there!  You have reading more interesting than any novel that was ever written, and as instructive as the heaviest theology.  The matter is quite attractive and fascinating, and yet so weighty, that the man who shall study those eight volumes thoroughly, will not fail to read his Bible intelligently and with growing interest.’ – Spurgeon

Lange’s Commentary – Ecclesiastes  by Otto Zockler

*** – ‘We cannot say that we admire Zockler’s interpretation of the Song of Solomon.  The volume contains much that we do not like, but its value is considerable.  It is a pity that the value of the volumes in this series varies so much.’ – Spurgeon

MacDonald, James – The Book of Ecclesiastes Explained  (1856)  Buy

MacDonald was of Princeton, New Jersey.

*** – “Thoroughly exegetical, with excellent ‘scopes of argument’ following each division: to be purchased if it can be met with.” – Spurgeon

‘While supplying the text of both the AV and RV, the author gives a verse-by-verse commentary.  Devotional.’ – Cyril J. Barber

Young, Loyal – A Commentary on the Book of Ecclesiastes  (1865)  There are introductory notices by A.T. McGill and M.W. Jacobus, two prominent presbyterian ministers.

Young was an American Presbyterian minister in PA.

*** – “This American comment is highly spoken of by eminent judges, and appears to have been carefully executed.  It is able and solid, and at the same time enlivened with originality of thought, vivacity of expression, and practical pungency.” – Spurgeon

Stuart, Moses – A Commentary on Ecclesiastes  (1851)

*** – “Full and minute, with most instructive introductions.  It is unnecessary to say that Moses Stuart is a great authority, though not all we could wish as to spirituality.” – Spurgeon

Wardlaw, Ralph – Lectures on the Book of Ecclesiastes  (two volumes in one)

*** – “Wardlaw is always good, though not very brilliant.  He may be relied upon, when not critical, and he generally excited thought.” – Spurgeon



Hengstenberg, E.W. – Commentary on Ecclesiastes  (1860)  268 pp.

*** – “Scholarly of course, and also more vivacious than is usual with Hengstenberg.” – Spurgeon

‘A conservative exposition based upon a thorough study of the original text.’ – Cyril J. Barber

Keil & Delitzsch – Commentary on Ecclesiastes

Keil and Delitzsch are the best on academic, grammarian analysis, but are as spiritually satisfying as quenching your thirst on saltine crackers.

*** – Spurgeon



More Commentaries on Ecclesiastes


Luther, Martin – An Exposition of Solomon’s Book called Ecclesiastes, or ‘The Preacher’  Buy  (d. 1546)

** – “Even the British Museum authorities have been unable to find this octavo for us, though it is mentioned in their catalogue.” – Spurgeon

Serranus, John – A Godly & Learned Commentary upon Ecclesiastes  (1585)

*  “Serranus [d. 1552] was a Protestant pastor at Nismes, of such moderate opinions, and such objectionable modes of stating them, that he was about equally abhorred by Romanists and Protestants.  He is said to have been very inaccurate in his learning.” – Spurgeon



Reynolds, Edward – A Commentary on the Book of Ecclesiastes  (d. 1676)

** – “See [the] Westminster Assembly’s Annotations, for which Reynolds wrote this.  He is always good.” – Spurgeon

Anonymous – Annotations on the Book of Ecclesiastes  London, printed by Streater  (1669)  This book is the same as that by Edward Reynolds.

*  “By no means remarkable, except for some extreme rarity.” – Spurgeon

Broughton, Hugh – A Commentary upon Coheleth, or Ecclesiastes  (1605)

Broughton was a reformed Anglican.

* – “Broughton was a far-famed and rather pretentious Hebraist whom Dr. Gill quoted as an authority.  His work is nearly obsolete, but its loss is not a severe one.” – Spurgeon

Cotton, John – A Brief Exposition with Practical Observations upon the Whole Book of Ecclesiastes

Cotton (†1652) was a New England puritan.

** – “By a great linguist and sound divine.  Ecclesiastes is not a book to be expounded verse by verse; but Cotton does it as well as anyone.” – Spurgeon

Granger, Thomas – A Familiar Exposition, or Commentary, on Ecclesiastes, wherein the World’s Vanity & the True Felicity are Plainly Deciphered  (1621)  344 pp.

** – ” Very antique, containing many obsolete and coarse phrases; but pithy and quaint.” – Spurgeon

Jackson, Arthur – Annotations upon Job, the Psalms, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes & the Song of Solomon  (1658)

“In 1653, Arthur Jackson, Preacher of God’s Word in Wood Street, London, issued four volumes upon the Old Testament, which appear to have been the result of his pulpit expositions to his people.  Valuable his works would be if there were no better, but they are not comparable to others already and afterwards mentioned.  You can do without him, but he is a reputable author.” – Spurgeon

Jermin, Michael – A Commentary upon the Whole Book of Ecclesiastes, or The Preacher  (1659)

Jermin (1590-1659) was a Reformed Anglican.

** – “The school to which Jermin belonged delighted to display their learning, of which they had no small share; they excelled in wise sayings, but not in unction.  the fruit is ripe, but lacks flavor.” – Spurgeon

Leigh, Edward – Annotations on Five Poetical Books of the Old Testament: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes & Canticles  (1657)

**  ‘Good, brief notes.  Antique, but still prized.’ – Spurgeon

Nisbet, Alexander – An Exposition with Practical Observations upon the Book of Ecclesiastes  (†1669)

** – ‘One of those solid works which learned Scotch divines of the seventeenth century have left us in considerable numbers.  In our judgment it is as heavy as it is weighty.’ – Surgeon

Pemble, William – Salomon’s Recantation & Repentance, or the Book of Ecclesiastes Briefly and Fully Explained  in Works, pp. 281-344  (†1623)

Pemble was a Reformed puritan.

** – “Anthony a Wood calls Pemble ‘a famous preacher, a skillful linguist, a good orator, and an ornament to society.’  Moreover, he was a learned Calvinistic divine.  This ‘Recantation’ is a minor production.  The style is scholastic, with arrangements of the subjects such as render it hard to read.  We confess we are disappointed with it.” – Spurgeon

Sikes, George – An Exposition of Ecclesiastes, or, The Preacher  (1680)



Mylne, G.W. – Ecclesiastes; or, Lessons for the Christian’s Daily Walk  (1859)

**  “The author in this little publication does not comment upon the whole Book; but the passages he touches are ably explained.” – Spurgeon




Anonymous – Choheleth, or The Royal Preacher, a Poem  (1769)

* – “This is the work of which Mr. Wesley wrote: ‘Monday, Feb. 8, 1768.  I met with a surprising poem, entitled Choheleth, or the Preacher: it is a paraphrase in tolerable verse on the Book of Ecclesiastes.  I really think the author of it (a Turkey merchant) understands both the difficult expressions and the connection of the whole, better than any other, either ancient or modern, writer whom I have seen.”  We defer to Mr. Wesley’s opinion, but it would not have occurred to us to commend so warmly.” – Spurgeon



Coleman, John – Ecclesiastes, a New Translation, with Notes, Explanatory, Illustrative & Critical  (1867)

**  “A scholarly translation with important observations.” – Spurgeon

Cox, Samuel – The Quest for the Chief Good: Expository Lectures on the Book of Ecclesiastes  (1868)

**  “We should find it hard to subscribe to Mr. Cox’s views of Ecclesiastes, for, to begin with, we cannot admit that its author was not Solomon, but some unnamed Rabbi: nevertheless, ‘The Quest for the Chief Good’ is full of valuable matter, and abundantly repays perusal.” – Spurgeon

‘A learned treatment by the former editor of The Expositor.’ – Cyril J. Barber

Holden, George – An Attempt to Illustrate the Book of Ecclesiastes  (1822)  317 pp.  A paraphrase of Ecclesiastes follows the Introductory material.  The commentary begins on p. 53 of the work.  More technical observations are kept to the footnotes.

Holden (1783-1865) was an orthodox Anglican.

** – “Bridges says that Holden ‘stands foremost for accuracy of critical exegesis,’ and Ginsburg considers his commentary to be the best in our language.  We may therefore be wrong in setting so little store by it as we do, but we are not convinced.” – Spurgeon

Noyes, George R. – A New Translation of the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes & the Canticles, with Introductions & Notes, Chiefly Explanatory  (1846)

**  “Of Noyes upon Ecclesiastes, Dr. Hamilton says: ‘This interpretation is clear and straightforward, but the American professor gives to the book an air of theological tenuity and mere worldly wisdom which carries neither our conviction nor our sympathy.’  Noyes is a good literary expositor, but his theological views render him a very poverty-stricken commentator from a spiritual point of view.” – Spurgeon

Weiss, Benjamin – A New Translation & Exposition of the Book of Ecclesiastes, with Critical Notes on the Hebrew Text  (1856)

**  “It is pleasing to find a converted Jew engaged upon this book.  Mr. Weiss says many good things, but frequently his interpretations and remarks are more singular than wise.” – Spurgeon



Leupold, H.C. – An Exposition of Ecclesiastes  Buy  no ToC  Outline

Leupold (b. 1891) was an orthodox Lutheran and a professor of the Old Testament.

‘An exceptional treatment based upon a careful exegesis of the text and revealing the emptiness of formalism and the discontent with life which follows attempts to solve its problems outside implicit faith and trust in God’s providence.’ – Cyril J. Barber

Shaw, Benjamin – Ecclesiastes: Life in a Fallen World  Buy  Ref  (Banner of Truth, 2019)  168 pp.

Shaw was a professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.




Durell, David – Critical Remarks on the Books of Job, Proverbs, Psalms, Ecclesiastes & Canticles  (1772)

Durell (1728–1775) was an Anglican O.T. scholar.



Ginsburg, Christian – Coheleth, Commonly Called, The Book of Ecclesiastes, translated & with a Commentary Historical & Critical  (1857)

Ginsburg (1831-1914) was a leading Christian Hebraicist of his day.

** – “The author does not believe that Solomon wrote the book, and his view of its design is not the usual, nor, as we think, the right one.  His outline of the literature of the book is very complete.” – Spurgeon

Preston, Theodore – The Hebrew Text & a Latin version of the Book of Solomon called Ecclesiastes, with Original Notes, Philological & Exegetical, & a Translation of the Commentary of Mendelssohn from the Rabbinic Hebrew  (1845)  The commentary begins on p. 130

Mendelssohn was a German, Jewish, Enlightenment philosopher.

**  “A book more prized by linguists than by preachers.  We might with propriety have named this Mendelssohn’s Commentary, for so it is.” – Spurgeon

Lloyd, J. – An Analysis of Ecclesiastes, with Reference to the Hebrew Grammar of Gesenius, & with Notes, Critical & Explanatory  Buy  (London: Samule Bagster, 1874)  205 pp.  no ToC

Lloyd was an Anglican rector.

**  “This will be esteemed by men who have some knowledge of the Hebrew.  The repeated references to Gesenius would render the book tedious to the ordinary reader, but they make it all the more valuable to one who aspires to be a Hebraist.” – Spurgeon



The Early Church on Ecclesiastes


ed. Wright, J. Robert – Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon  Pre  Buy  (IVP, 2005)  ToC

Christianson, Eric S. – Ecclesiastes Through the Centuries  Pre  (Blackwell, 2012)  300 pp.  ToC



Gregory Thaumaturgus – A Metaphrase on the Book of Ecclesiastes  in Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 6, pp. 9-17

Gregory (c. 213 – 270)

Ambrosiaster – Questions & Answers on Ecclesiastes (Eccl. 7:17 & 9:4)  at Patristic Bible Commentary

Ambrosiaster (fl. 366-384)

Gregory of Nyssa

Homilies on Ecclesiastes: an English Version with Supporting Studies…  ed. Stuart G. Hall  Pre  (Walter de Gruyter, 1993)  435 pp.  ToC

Gregory (c. 335 – c. 395)

Homilies on Ecclesiastes  ed. John Litteral, trans. Richard McCambly  in Ancient Bible Commentaries in English  Ref  (2014)  90 pp.

Extract on the Evils of Slavery, from Homily 4 on Ecclesiastes  trans. Stuart G. Hall & Rachel Moriarty  at

Evagrius Ponticus – ‘Notes on Ecclesiastes’  in Evagrius Ponticus  trans. A.M. Casiday  in The Early Church Fathers  Pre  (Routledge, 2006), pp. 130-49

Evagrius (345–399)

Chrysostom – Commentaries on the Sages: Commentary on Proverbs & Commentary on Ecclesiastes  Ref  (Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2006)  246 pp.

Chrysostom (c. 347 – 407)

Jerome – Commentary on Ecclesiastes  in Ancient Christian Writers: the Works of the Fathers in Translation  (Catholic Univ. of America, Newman Press)  HTML  Latin

Jerome (c. 342–347 –420)




ben Yeroham, Salmon – Asceticism, Eschatology, Opposition to Philosophy: The Arabic Translation & Commentary of Salmon ben Yeroham on Qohelet (Ecclesiastes)  ed. James T. Robinson  in Karaite Texts & Studies, vol. 5  Pre  (Brill, 2012)  605 pp.  ToC

Yefet (c. 914 – 1009) was perhaps the foremost Karaite commentator on the Bible during the “Golden Age of Karaism”.

Ginsberg, Harold Lewis – Studies in Koheleth  (NY: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1950)  55 pp.  ToC

Ginsberg (1903 – 1990) was a professor of rabbinic literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City.

Gordis, Robert – Koheleth: the Man & his World: a Study of Ecclesiastes  Buy  (NY: Schocken Books, 1955)  425 pp.  ToC



Ecclesiastes Arranged by Subject with a Commentary

Hall, Joseph – Salomon’s Divine Arts, of: 1. Ethics, 2. Politics, 3. Economics that is; the Government of: 1. Behavior, 2. Commonwealth, 3. Family.  Drawn into method, out of his Proverbs & Ecclesiastes.  With an Open & Plain Paraphrase upon the Song of Songs  (1609)



On Chapters in Ecclesiastes


Ecclesiastes 1-5

Gifford, George – Eight Sermons, upon the First Four Chapters & Part of the Fifth, of Ecclesiastes  (1589)

Gifford (1547-1600) was a Reformed puritan.



Ecclesiastes 1

Harris, Robert – On Eccl. 1  in Several Sermons of Robert Harris  Ref  (1654)



Ecclesiastes  12

Smith, John – King Solomon’s Portraiture of Old Age, wherein is Contained a Sacred Anatomy Both of Soul & Body, with an Account of All these Mystical & Enigmatical Symptoms, Expressed in the Six Former Verses of Eccl. 12, made Plain & Easy  (1666)

** – “A curious book by a physician, who brings his anatomical knoweldge to bear upon the 12th chapter of Ecclesiastes, and tries to show that Solomon understood the circulation of the blood, etc.  Matthew Poole introduced the substance of this treatise into his Synopsis, and in that huge compilation he speaks eulogistically of the author, with whom he resided.  We mention it because of its singularity.” – Spurgeon



In Latin

Beza, Theodore – Ecclesiastes: Solomon’s Sermon to the People about Life thus set forth, so that they may Achieve True & Eternal Happiness, in Paraphrase & Opened by Theodore Beza  (1588)  88 pp.

** – “Sure to be weighty and instructive.  It is exceedingly rare.” – Spurgeon, on the English translation




Related Pages

Whole Bible Commentaries

Old Testament Commentaries

New Testament Commentaries