Ecclesiastes 1:13

And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom,.... As he had all advantages and opportunities, so he did not want for industry and application to obtain knowledge; he gave his mind to it; he took up a resolution not to be discouraged by any difficulties, but to break through them, if possible; he set about the work with great readiness and cheerfulness; he had a price in his hand to get wisdom, and he had a heart unto it; see Proverbs 17:16; and he pursued it with all diligence, with all his might and main: nor did he content himself with a superficial knowledge of things; but "searched" after the most recondite and abstruse learning, and penetrated into the utmost recesses of it, to find out all that was to be known; and this he did "by" using all the "wisdom" and sagacity, the light and strength of reason, and all those bright natural parts, which God had given him in a very extraordinary manner. And his inquiry was very extensive; it was

concerning all things that are done under heaven; into the nature of all things, animate and inanimate; trees, herbs, plants, fossils, minerals, and metals; beasts, birds, fish, and all creeping things; see 1 Kings 4:33; with everything else in nature: he sought to make himself master of all arts and sciences; to get knowledge of all trades and manufactures; to understand everything in politics, relating to kingdoms and states, and the government of them; to observe all the actions of men, wise and foolish, that he might know the difference, and be a judge of what was right and wrong. And his observation upon the whole is,

this sore travail hath God given to the sons of men, to be exercised therewith: he found by experience it was a heavy task, which God had put upon the children of men, to get wisdom and knowledge in the way it was to be gotten; which was very burdensome and wearisome to the flesh; nay, he found it was an {l} "evil business", as it may be rendered; or there was something sinful and criminal, which God suffered men in their pursuit after knowledge to fall into, and which their studies exposed them to; as to indulge a vain and sinful curiosity, to pry into things unlawful, and to be wise above what is written; or to be too anxious in attaining natural knowledge, to the neglect of things of great importance; or to abuse or trust in knowledge attained unto, or be vainly elated and puffed up with it. Or this may be understood of the evil of punishment, which God inflicts on men for the sin of eating of the tree of knowledge; and that as he is doomed to get his bread, so his knowledge, with the sweat of his brow, that is, with great pains and labour; which otherwise would have been more easily obtained: but this God has done to "afflict" or "humble" {m} men, as the word may be rendered; to afflict or punish them for sin; and to humble them by showing them how weak are the powers and faculties of their minds, that so much pains must be taken to get a small share of knowledge. The Targum is,

"and I saw all the works of the children of men obnoxious to an evil business; the Lord gave to the children of men, to be afflicted with it.''

{l} er Nyne "occupationem malam", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius, Amama, Gejerus.
{m} twnel "ad affligendum", Montanus, Gejerus; "ut affligent se in ea", Vatablus, Rambachius; "ut ea humlies redderet", Tigurine version.