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Follow up on this question.

Other than the name being similar to the English one, why would one assume that אפריקי in the Gemara has anything to do with Africa? The names are similar, but is there any other reason?

Example of what I mean, is there anywhere (a Torah commentary, the Gemara itself, etc.) that discusses the place as having animals, features, or the like that make it Africa in particular?

  • There is something perhaps with Totafot – kouty May 21 '17 at 13:15
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    Ezra, balashon.com/2007/01/totafot.html discusses how some Talmudic authorities did not shy away from using words from languages other than Hebrew or, I suppose, Amarahic. The article specifically discusses the word Afriki . It is from the Phoenician related Phyrigian language considered related to Indo-European tounges ( en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrygian_language). Afriki most certainly does not mean Africa. – JJLL May 21 '17 at 13:25
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    @JJLL, it could be from either Greek or Latin, which were certainly known to Chaza"l – Noach MiFrankfurt May 21 '17 at 13:40
  • Keep in mind that the etymological relatedness of place names does not necessarily mean that they refer to the same place. For example, the Latin Scotia refers to Ireland, not Scotland, and Latin Asia refers to Asia Minor, not the entire continent of what is today called Asia in English. – Robert Columbia May 22 '17 at 0:32
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    Possible duplicate of Did Rabbi Akiva Go To Africa? – Al Berko Dec 5 '18 at 19:10
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Maharal (Netzach Yisroel 34) explains that this is indeed not the Africa of today. He proves it from Tamid 32a that Afriki is a place where there are mountains so high so there is never sunlight. Thus, one couldn’t travel there, therefore it’s not Africa. And Africa isn’t know to have such described mountains.

ועוד יראה דהכי פירושו, דמתחלה הגלה אותם לאפריקי. ואינו אפריקי שהוא ידוע לנו, אבל הוא מקום דפסקי הרי חושך, וזה נקרא גם כן 'אפריקי'. וכך מוכח במסכת תמיד (לב. ), דקאמר אלכסנדר מוקדן לזקנים דבעינא למיזל למדינת אפריקי, אמרו ליה לא מצית, דפסקי הרי חושך. שמע מינה דאי אפשר לעבור שם, ואפריקי הידוע אין נראה דפסקי הרי חושך.

Gomer in Ber. 10:2 is translated by Targum Yonathan as Afriki. Gomer is identified as Phrygia by Aruch HaShalem.

More info here.

  • I wonder where the term אפריקי comes from. – ezra Dec 5 '18 at 18:03
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    Good sources, but one correction: Aruch Hashalem says that אפריקי can refer both to Africa (the province, not the continent) as well as Phrygia. @ezra It's taken from Aphrike, the Greek name for Africa – b a Dec 5 '18 at 18:03
  • He seems to bring several opinions (which aren’t too relevant) Where are you referring to on the page? @ba – Dr. Shmuel Dec 5 '18 at 18:21
  • @Dr.Shmuel The page before the one you linked – b a Dec 5 '18 at 18:34
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Why would people assume that “Afriki” is Africa?

Because that's how the Greeks (whose influence on Judaism and many other cultures is well documented) spell and pronounce the word Αφρικη until this very day.

Other than the name being similar to the English one, why would one assume that אפריקי in the Gemara has anything to do with Africa? The names are similar, but is there any other reason?

You almost make it sound as if the English invented the word, which simply isn't the case.

The names are similar, but is there any other reason? Example of what I mean, is there anywhere (a Torah commentary, the Gemara itself, etc.) that discusses the place as having animals, features, or the like that make it Africa in particular?

The Greek word literally translates as without cold, a- being the negative particle (as in atheist), and friké meaning cold (as in Romanian frig, for instance). Obviously, Africa is a notoriously warm continent.

The Talmud also speaks of Gehenna (another notoriously warm place) lying beyond the dark mountains, and needing an Egyptian donkey to reach. Obviously, Africa is home to Egyptians in particular, and other dark-skinned people in general, as for the mountains in question, they are described as being incredibly tall, so as to completely block the rays of the sun, a rather transparent allusion to the famous Atlas mountains, whose height was believed by the above-mentioned ancient Greeks to reach heaven, which is why they named them after their legendary homonymous hero, condemned by their supreme god to carry the sky on his shoulders.

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