Vanity of vanities is an epithet which occurs in the Hebrew bible. The phrase is a superlative and is similar to the holy of holies in the biblical world. In the song of Songs, also known as the Canticles or Song of Solomon, the word vanity means “vanity of things.” The words are usually translated as “meaningless,” but modern translators often render it as “absurd,” a word that simply means ‘not fitting into the order and purpose of life’.
The term “vanity” first appeared in the Book of Ecclesiastes, which was originally translated as ‘obsession with appearance.’ It was later used to describe the fruitlessness of human effort in this world. The word vanitas is used as a summary of a person’s entire preoccupation with vanity, as well as idolatry. This means that vanity is the ultimate folly and that it is the cause of all other suffering.
Despite the common use of the word ‘vanity’ in the Bible, it rarely appears in the New Testament. It’s more often equated with the Greek words VAIN or VAINGLORY. For example, in Acts 14:15, the term ‘vanity’ is translated as ’emptiness.’ In Romans 8:20, the word for vanity is ‘transistorizes,’ while in Ephesians 4:17 it is “folly.” Finally, in 2 Peter 2:18, the term is translated as ‘folly’.