When Yisrael come to Mitzrayim Paro gives them "the choice land of Goshen" Bereishis 47,6 which is also called "Raamses" Bereishis 47,11. Later a new king Paro who doesn't recognize Yosef (who saves Egypt from famine) rises and enslaves them Shemos 1,7, but apparently lets them keep the good land, because they're still there during the plagues until they finally leave Raamses Shemos 12,37 on their way out of Egypt.

I would expect someone who enslaves a people, and who makes their job deliberately difficult as this one did by taking away the straw, to also deprive them of the best land (and perhaps of their flocks and other property as well). But that didn't happen.

Should we expect Paro to take away their land and flocks, or was that not how slaves were treated in that time and place? I'm wondering if I misunderstand how these things work or if we're seeing the divine hand in protecting them.

None of the chumashim I have access to comment on this. The question came up in my congregation's torah study recently.

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    I hope this doesn't turn into a hyksos discussion. – user6591 Dec 24 '14 at 19:35

Because Goshen wasn't a such good land. The Mitzrim hated to breed sheep (for religious belief I think). Explicitly Yosef asked his father to speak about his occupation in front of paro, in order to get the land of Goshen, a retired land with grass, in which the Hebrews would be more quiet/exposed to Egyptian society.

edit: yes, source.. chapter 47 first passuk (vaygash, parasha of week), with his rashi

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya. Do you have any source for your claims, or is it your own idea? You can edit in if you do. – Scimonster Dec 24 '14 at 20:23
  • But on the other hand, when Paro gave them the land he told Yosef to have his brothers look after his flocks too -- "And if thou knowest any able men among them, then make them rulers over my cattle" (47:6). Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/12741/472 – Monica Cellio Dec 24 '14 at 20:33
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    This may be a good answer to "Why would Pharaoh leave them in the good land when enslaving them? That's abnormal" but the question above is "Pharaoh left them in the good land when enslaving them. Was it normal?" which this doesn't seem to answer. cc @MonicaCellio (asker) – msh210 Dec 24 '14 at 20:43
  • Yes, I understand you point... Now I would have the personnal idea that they let them because it was in the mitzrim interest to keep them apart. – David Dec 24 '14 at 21:47

The Midrash (Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer ch. 26) says:

שנלקחה שרה אשתו לפרעה לאשה ......ר' יהושע בן קרחא אומר, מאהבתו אותה כתב לה בשטר כתובתה כל ממונו בין כסף בין זהב בין עבדים וקרקעות, וכתב לה את ארץ גושן לאחוזה, לפיכך ישבו בני ישראל בארץ גושן בארץ שרה אמם, וכתב לה את הגר בתו מפלגשו שפחה.
Pharo tried to take Sarah as a wife......R. Yehoshua b. Korcha says: Due to Pharaoh's great love, he wrote to her [Sara] all of his assets, whether silver or gold, whether slaves or real estate, and he wrote to her the land of Goshen as an estate, therefore Yisrael settled in the land of Goshen, because it belonged to Sara, our matriarch.

It seems the later Pharaoh could not revoke what the earlier pharaoh had edicted so the Israelites were able to stay in Goshen that was given to Sara in spite of their slavery.

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