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The Shfela or Shephelah (Hebrew: הַשְּפֵלָה), also שְׁפֵלַת יְהוּדָה, Shfelat Yehuda, "Judean foothills", is a lowland in south-central Israel stretching over 10–15 km between Mount Hebron and the coastal plain. It was one of the regions allotted to the biblical Tribe of Judah. Today the Shfela is largely rural with many farms.
The Shfela is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, in Deuteronomy 1:7; Joshua 9:1; 10:40; 11:2, 16; 12:8; 15:33; Judges 1:9; 1 Kings 10:27; Jeremiah 17:26; 32:44; 33:13; Obadiah 1:19; Zechariah 7:7; 1 Chronicles 27:28; 2 Chronicles 1:15; 9:27; 26:10; 28:18. (In the King James Version, the Hebrew term "Shfela" tends to be translated as "vale" or "valley.") The Shfela was the site of many biblical battles. During the Bar Kokhba revolt, hollowed out hills were connected to form elaborate bunker systems for the combat with the Romans.
The Shfela is a fertile rolling plain. One of the major characteristics are hills formed of marl-covered soft chalk, as opposed to the Judean Hills which are made of hard chalk and dolomite. The valleys and lower areas contain soil with a high sand content, as well as large tracts of fertile areas. Seasonal swamps can develop during the rainy season. The southern part is made up of loess, while north of Ashkelon consists of clay.
A series of east-west valleys cuts the Shfelah into districts. From north to south, they are: the Valley of Ayalon, Sorek Valley, Valley of Elah, Guvrin Valley, Valley of Lachish, and Valley of Adorayim. The biblical towns established there guarded settlements of the interior and took advantage of trade passing along this route. Ayalon was the primary access corridor to Jerusalem along the ascent of Horon.
Archaeological surveys in the Shfela have found evidence of habitation during the Late Bronze period.
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