And Joshua rent his clothes
As was usual in those ancient times, on hearing bad news, and as expressive of grief and trouble F18; see ( Genesis 37:29 Genesis 37:34 ) ( Job 1:20 ) ;
and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord, until
in a posture of adoration and prayer, in which he continued till even; how long that was cannot be said, since the time is not mentioned when the army returned from Ai; very probably it was some time in the afternoon: this was done before the ark of the Lord, the symbol of the divine Presence, not in the most holy place, where that usually was, and into which Joshua might not enter, but in the tabernacle of the great court, over against where the ark was:
he and the elders of Israel;
either the elders of the people in the several tribes, or rather the seventy elders, which were the sanhedrim or council, and which attended Joshua, and assisted him as such;
and put dust upon their heads;
another rite or ceremony used in times of mourning and distress, and that very anciently, before Joshua's time and after, see ( Job 2:12 ) ( 1 Samuel 4:12 ) ( 2 Samuel 1:2 ) ; and among various nations; so when Achilles bewailed the death of Patroclus, he is represented by Homer F19 taking with both his hands the black earth, and pouring it on his head; so Aristippus among the Athenians is said F20 to sprinkle dust on his head in token of mourning on a certain account.