Here the theme of the book is announced: “All is vanity.”
The Hebrew word traditionally translated as “vanity” is hevel. The literal meaning is a breath of air or a puff of wind (see Isaiah, son of Amoz, who prophesied in Jerusalem, is included among the prophets of the eighth century B.C.E. (along with Amos, Hosea, and Micah)--preachers who boldly proclaimed God's word of judgment against the economic, social, and religious disorders of their time. 57:13). A puff of wind or smoke is insubstantial and temporary. This is what hevel conveys throughout the book.