In The Land of Rameses
Rameses (also spelled Ramesses, Ramses, Raamses) was an Egyptian royal city and district in the Nile Delta region (see Bible Places). According to the Bible record (see Bible History), the Israelites built the city during the time of their slavery prior to the Exodus. Sun-dried bricks, made of Nile mud, some of them mixed with straw as described in the Scriptures, can still be found in the area.
"they built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses"
The people of Israel, while escaping a great famine in their own land, took up residence in Egypt under extremely favorable circumstances. One of their own, Joseph (see The Israelite Patriarchs - Joseph), was, in effect, the Pharaoh's prime minister. It was Joseph, who was answerable only to the Pharaoh himself, that did the actual day-to-day running of the entire country (Genesis 41:41-44).
"So Joseph went in and told Pharaoh, "My father and my brothers [see Children of Jacob], with their flocks and herds and all that they possess, have come from the land of Canaan; they are now in the land of Goshen." And from among his brothers he took five men and presented them to Pharaoh."
"Pharaoh said to his brothers, "What is your occupation?"
"And they said to Pharaoh, "Your servants are shepherds, as our fathers were." They said to Pharaoh, "We have come to sojourn in the land; for there is no pasture for your servants' flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan; and now, we pray you, let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen."
"Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land; let them dwell in the land of Goshen; and if you know any able men among them, put them in charge of my cattle."
"Then Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh."
"And Pharaoh said to Jacob, "How many are the days of the years of your life?" And Jacob said to Pharaoh, "The days of the years of my sojourning are a hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning." And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from the presence of Pharaoh."
"Then Joseph settled his father and his brothers, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded." (Genesis 47:1-11 RSV)
Unlike their ancestors who entered Egypt in the time of Joseph, later generations of Israelites found themselves oppressed and forced into slavery, in the fields, and constructing cities for the Pharaoh.
"Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, "Behold, the people of Israel are too many [see Growth Of A Nation] and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war befall us, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land."
"Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens; and they built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. So they made the people of Israel serve with rigor, and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field; in all their work they made them serve with rigor." (Exodus 1:8-14 RSV)
When the appointed time came, as promised beforehand by God to Jacob before they ever went there (Genesis 46:3-4), the people of Israel were taken out of Egypt:
"And he summoned Moses and Aaron by night, and said, "Rise up, go forth from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve The Lord, as you have said. Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also!"
"And the Egyptians were urgent with the people, to send them out of the land in haste; for they said, "We are all dead men" [see The Ten Plagues]. So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls being bound up in their mantles on their shoulders. The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked of the Egyptians jewelry of silver and of gold, and clothing; and The Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they despoiled the Egyptians."
"And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very many cattle, both flocks and herds. And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they had brought out of Egypt, for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any provisions." (Exodus 12:31-39 RSV)
Fact Finder: What was the original meaning of "Pharaoh"?
See Egyptian Pharaohs