“[B]ury me with my fathers:” Seeking the Pastoral Relevance of Genesis 49:29 in the Nigerian Context

  • Solomon Olusola Ademiluka University of South Africa
Keywords: Jacob’s burial, Israelite burial customs, Ancestral veneration, Nigerian Christians and burial in the country home, Burial and character


Jacob’s instruction to his children in Genesis 49:29 to bury him in Canaan finds relevance in Nigeria in the context of the importance attached to burial on ancestral land. In Nigeria, when it became unlawful to bury in residential areas, the emphasis shifted away from the ancestral land to burial in one’s country home. Hence, employing narrative analysis and the descriptive approach, the article examines the pastoral relevance of the text in contemporary Nigeria relative to burial on ancestral land. It finds that burial on ancestral land in ancient Israel and Nigeria served some socio-cultural purposes. In both contexts, the practice signifies that the deceased has died a good death. Burial sites are also a basis for asserting land rights, identity and belonging. The existence of the deceased’s tombs on the family land reflects the belief in an existing relationship between a people and their ancestors. The work concludes that while many aspects of the burial customs are no more relevant for contemporary Nigerian Christians, burying on the ancestral land still has socio-cultural values, such as inculcating regard for one’s community of origin, the need for regular reunion with relatives, and the importance of acceptable character. Therefore, in contemporary Nigeria, Genesis 49:29 is an appropriate passage for teaching these precepts during Christian burial services.


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