Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
After all overt resistance was overcome, the tabernacle with its sacred contents was removed from its place of safety at Gilgal, in a corner of the land near the Jordan, to a central place, Shiloh, the modern Scilun, which is two or three miles east of the main road, and rather more than half way between Jerusalem and Nablous. Its choice as the national sanctuary may indeed have been determined by Joshua, no doubt under divine direction Deu 12:11, because of its insignificance, in order to avoid local jealousies, as well as because of its position in the very center of the whole land, and perhaps also because of its seclusion. Its very name ("rest") was probably bestowed at this juncture when God had given the people rest from their enemies. The tabernacle with its contents continued at Shiloh during the whole period of the Judges, until its capture by the Philistines. Shiloh Sa1 4:3-4 seems to have fallen into desolation at an early date Jer 7:12; Jer 26:6.
Two tribes and a half had already received their portions on the east of Jordan; Judah, Ephraim, and the remaining half of Manasseh had also been provided for Josh. 15-17. Thus there remained still seven tribes out of the twelve to be settled in their homes.
This backwardness probably arose from the indisposition of the people to abandon the nomad life in which they had been born and bred, and to settle in fixed abodes, and perhaps also from a dislike of the exterminating warfare incidental to a complete dispossessing of the Canaanites.
Three men for each tribe - i. e. 21 in all. Their duty would be to describe the land, especially with reference to the cities it contained Jos 18:9, that Joshua might have the means of making a first apportionment among the tribes according to their varying numbers.
Cast lots - See the Jos 14:2 note.
See the marginal references. There are many indications found in this and the next chapter that the text is in great disorder, and many of the places are still unknown.
And compassed the corner ... - Render "and turned on the west side southward." The meaning is, that at lower Beth-horon the northern boundary-line of Benjamin curved round and ran southward - Beth-horon being its extreme westerly point.
The "Valley of Keziz," or "Emek-Keziz," is perhaps the "Wady el Kaziz," at no great distance east of Jerusalem.
Zemaraim, i. e. "two wooded hills," is supposed to be the ruins called "Es-Sumrah," on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.
Ophrah (Jos 15:9 note), to be distinguished here and in Sa1 13:17 from the Ophrah of Jdg 6:11, is probably the Ephrain of Ch2 13:19, and the Ephraim of Joh 11:54. It is conjecturally identified with "Et-Taiyibeh," on the road from Jerusalem to Bethel.
Gaba - This name, like Gibeah, Gibeon, etc. Jos 9:3, indicates a town placed on a hill, and occurs repeatedly in various forms in the topography of Palestine. Gaba is the Gibeah (if Sa1 13:15-16; Sa1 14:5, where the Hebrew has גבע Geba‛, which is undoubtedly the correct reading throughout. The city was one of those assigned to the Levites Jos 21:17, and lay on the northern border of Judah. It is identified with the modern "Jeba," lying on the side of a deep ravine opposite to Michmash ("Mukhmas"). The famous "Gibeah of Saul," or "Giheah of Benjamin" (the Gibeath of Jos 18:28) lay at no great distance southwest of Geba, on the high road from Jerusalem to Bethel, and is probably to be looked for in the lofty and isolated "Tulcil-el-Ful."
Ramah - i. e. "lofty;" probably the native town and abode of Samuel Sa1 1:19; Sa1 25:1. Its exact site is uncertain.
Mizpeh - See Jos 11:3. Not the Mizpeh of Jos 15:38, but the place where Samuel judged the people and called them together for the election of a king Sa1 7:5-16; Sa1 10:17. In the Chaldaean times it was the residence of Gedaliah Kg2 25:22; Jer 40:14. Its site is identified with "Neby Samwil," about five miles northwest of Jerusalem.