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Ecclesiastes, 21st book of the Old Testament. It consists of about 40 aphorisms, including the famous phrase, “vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Pessimistic in tone, Ecclesiastes opposes the view that virtue is always rewarded and sin punished. Nevertheless, it exhorts people to fear God and keep his commandments, even without hope of reward in this or future life. It has traditionally been attributed to the Hebrew King Solomon, but was probably written as late as the 2nd or 3rd century B.C.

See also: Bible; Old Testament.

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