8 ¶ Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. 9 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: 10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. 11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. 13 And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: 14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.
If the Pharaoh who welcomed Joseph and then his family was one of what scholars call the Hyksos or Shepherd-kings, who ruled over Egypt for a time, then this would be the return of a native-born Egyptian ruler. This would be a Pharaoh who represented the deep hatred and disgust the Egyptians would feel against the shepherds of Canaan. Here the great numbers of these immigrants from Canaan would make the Egyptians feel threatened and uneasy so they reduced this numerous people to slavery, building the treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.
If Goshen was in northeastern Egypt, a possibility we discussed in Genesis, and these cities were there as well, then the area is called Lower Egypt as the part of Egypt adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea. This is the area of the Nile Delta, lush and fertile, the powerhouse of Egypt. It was a rich agricultural region and was where such things as the Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1799 which helped scholars decipher hieroglyphics, the ancient Egyptian picture writing. There are a great many archaeological sites in this area.
The children of Israel’s lives went from the favored and plentiful existence of the welcome guest whose presence was made possible by the savior of the nation, Joseph, in a time of great want to despised slaves whose lives were made of hard, unending labor under mean-spirited overseers. It must have been quite a transition and there was probably much lamentation about the former days.