The young woman wants to know where her young lover will be during the siesta time of midday. His response? Read this:
8 If you do not know, most beautiful of women,
follow the tracks of the sheep
and graze your young goats
by the tents of the shepherds.
9 I liken you, my darling, to a mare
harnessed to one of the chariots of Pharaoh.
10 Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings,
your neck with strings of jewels.
11 We will make you earrings of gold,
studded with silver.
The young man addresses her with the superlative — the most beautiful of women. Images that evoke shift from one generation to another and from one culture to another.
She needs directions; he’ll give them to her. “Follow the tracks of the sheep …” and you’ll end up where I am. Her original question — where will I find you? — is answered playfully — “Where do you think you’ll find him? He’s a shepherd — follow the sheep tracks.” Cheryl Exum’s commentary wonders if 1:8 is not from the female choir of Jerusalem instead of the young man.
The young man sees in his ultra-beautiful young woman — whom he calls “my darling” or “my friend” or “my companion” (rayati; see 5:16 where she uses the mutual term for him) — a “mare harnessed to one of the chariots of Pharaoh” and if you tried that one today you’d not be seen as either poetic or loving. Bloch’s translation suggests that “liken” may not be the best way to render this expression — they suggest “imagine” or “dreamed of you” (Ps 50:21; Esth 4:13). The young man imagines that he and his young woman/lover are like horses … and the rest is rather clear.
She, now connected to opulence and glory (Pharaoh-type chariots in the Land), is painted with jewelry — her earrings hang down to her cheeks, her neck strung with jewels, and he’ll make her even more.
She speaks; then he speaks. Lovers describe the beauty of those they love. They emote and evoke and effuse in their language.