Nehemiah 12:30
And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall.
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(30) Purified themselves.—Before consecration to God there must be purification from defilement. It is made emphatic that both priests and Levites purified themselves, that is, by offerings and ablutions (comp. 2Chronicles 29:15; Ezra 6:20): the gates and the wall by being sprinkled.

12:27-43 All our cities, all our houses, must have holiness to the Lord written upon them. The believer should undertake nothing which he does not dedicate to the Lord. We are concerned to cleanse our hands, and purify our hearts, when any work for God is to pass through them. Those that would be employed to sanctify others, must sanctify themselves, and set themselves apart for God. To those who are sanctified, all their creature-comforts and enjoyments are made holy. The people greatly rejoiced. All that share in public mercies, ought to join in public thanksgivings.The house of Gilgal - Or, "Beth-Gilgal" - probably the Gilgal north of Jerusalem (now "Jiljilia). 27-43. at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem—This ceremony of consecrating the wall and gates of the city was an act of piety on the part of Nehemiah, not merely to thank God in a general way for having been enabled to bring the building to a happy completion, but especially because that city was the place which He had chosen. It also contained the temple which was hallowed by the manifestation of His presence, and anew set apart to His service. It was on these accounts that Jerusalem was called "the holy city," and by this public and solemn act of religious observance, after a long period of neglect and desecration, it was, as it were, restored to its rightful proprietor. The dedication consisted in a solemn ceremonial, in which the leading authorities, accompanied by the Levitical singers, summoned from all parts of the country, and by a vast concourse of people, marched in imposing procession round the city walls, and, pausing at intervals to engage in united praises, prayer, and sacrifices, supplicated the continued presence, favor, and blessing on "the holy city." "The assembly convened near Jaffa Gate, where the procession commences. Then (Ne 12:31) I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall (near the Valley Gate), and appointed two great companies of them that gave thanks, whereof one went on the right hand upon the wall towards the dung gate (through Bethzo). And after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah. And (Ne 12:37) at the fountain gate, which was over against them, they (descending by the Tower of Siloam on the interior, and then reascending) went up by the stairs of the city of David, at the going up of the wall, above the house of David, even unto the water gate eastward (by the staircase of the rampart, having descended to dedicate the fountain structures). And the other company of them that gave thanks went over against them (both parties having started from the junction of the first and second walls), and I after them, and the half of the people upon the wall, from beyond the tower of the furnaces even unto the broad wall (beyond the corner gate). And from above the gate of Ephraim, and above the old gate (and the gate of Benjamin), and above the fish gate, and the tower of Hananeel, and the tower of Meah, even unto the sheep gate; and they stood still in the prison gate (or high gate, at the east end of the bridge). So stood the two companies of them that gave thanks in the house of God, and I, and half of the rulers with me (having thus performed the circuit of the investing walls), and arrived in the courts of the temple" [Barclay, City of the Great King]. Partly by sprinkling the water of purification upon them, by which the tabernacle and sacred utensils were purified, Numbers 8; and partly by solemn prayers and sacrifices.

And the priests and the Levites purified themselves,.... By washing their bodies and their clothes, perhaps by sprinkling the water of purification on them, see Numbers 8:6. And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall.
30. purified themselves] Cf. Ezra 6:20. The description of the sacrifices offered by Hezekiah on the occasion of a national purification should be compared, 2 Chronicles 29:20-24.

the people … the gates … the walls] i.e. the people were purified in order that they might engage in the solemn dedication of their city walls without violation of the laws of purity. ‘The gates and walls’ were probably sprinkled, both as a sign of the dedication and to remove defilement from the path of the sacred procession.

Nehemiah 12:30The dedication began with the purification of the people, the gates, and the wall, by the priests and Levites, after they had purified themselves. This was probably done, judging from the analogy of 2 Chronicles 29:20, by the offering of sin-offerings and burnt-offerings, according to some special ritual unknown to us, as sacrifices of purification and dedication. This was followed by the central-point of the solemnity, a procession of two bands of singers upon the wall (Nehemiah 12:31-42).
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