The name of the book means The Preacher. Solomon is credited with being the author, and it is regarded as his personal literary legacy to his son, Rehoboam. It is a discourse upon the true wisdom, illuminated from his own experience and from the most wise observance of the course of life.
The theme of the book is: ďAll is VanityĒ. It appears to have been written by Solomon in his old age, when freed from the entanglements of idolatry, luxury, and lust. The date is thought to be about B.C. 977. Solomonís aim in writing was to show the vanity of all earthly good, and that there is a better life to come. Also, that men should cheerfully enjoy Godís gifts in nature, Ch. 2:24, and perform deeds of love and charity, Ch. 11:1.
The use of the word vanity does not mean foolish pride, but the emptiness in the final result of all life apart from God. To be born, to toil, to suffer, to experience some transitory joy, is as nothing in view of eternity, for here we must leave it all and die.
Ch. 9:10 must be interpreted with care. It is not a Divine revelation of the state of the dead, but merely a human observation of this life, which ends in the laying away of the body in the grave. God has inspired the utterance as a lesson for us on the vanity of this life only, v.4. From other scriptures, however, we learn of the conscious state of the soul after physical death, see Matthew 22:32; IICorinthians 5:6-8; and Revelation 6:9-11.
In closing, Solomon states his conclusion of the whole matter: He says, Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man, Ch. 12:13, and in v.14, we are told that God Himself will judge our works whether they be good or evil.