The ancient Jewish records are supposedly silent on "Africa" but that is because the Hebrew name for the continent, "Auphirah" is usually written "Ophir". In I Kings 9:28, we read that the sailors of Solomon of Israel and Hiram of Tyre went to "Ophir-Auphirah". Then in the next verse, I Kings 10:1, we read that the Queen who "ruled" or "administered" [Hebrew sheb (Shin, Beit, Aleph)] Ophirah-Africa, came to visit Solomon and probably put in a courtesy call to Hiram of Tyre as well (circa 950 BC). Only one queen ruled Egypt, Nubia, Sudan and Ethiopia of those days and her name is Hat-Sheba-Sut or Hatshepsut. Her temple at Deir el-Bahari evokes the words of Song of Solomon "Oh my dove, you are in the clefts of the rock in the secret places of the stairs". She was the great African Queen after whom even river boats and Hollywood films are named.
However, this analysis depends on accepting that Egyptian chronology is wrong by 600 years and that all the dynasties of ancient Egypt are misaligned with other countries' histories by error factors of 600 years on average. That's why there are so many mysteries over what really is quite a simple answer. To see how complex answers otherwise become, read those below. The complexity in what surely should be a simple question-answer is revealed by the excellent research shown below. But the real situation - assuming the chronological problems/solutions noted above are in fact so - is surely much simpler and more obvious.
Also, the name Afre-Kh or Kh-Afre, noted above, probably simply means the "Kh of Ophir" or perhaps "Spirit of Africa".
One of the answers below explains that "Punt" is East Africa. Today, the British supported government of North Somalia is named "Puntland" on some maps. However, Amenhotep III said "When I look to the sunrise, I come to the countries of Punt". One Egyptian poet likened holding a girl in one's arms to be in "Punt". Somalia and East Africa were never such wonderful places. But Israel in the Days of Solomon was. Thus Hatshepsut's extensive report of her journey to "Punt" obviously refers to Sheba's visit to Jerusalem in 950 BC. However, Jerusalem in the soon to come Messianic Kingdom which many Sudanese already believe exists in modern Israel will make Solomon's Jerusalem pale in comparison. Jesus said "Hatshepsut-Queen of the South" would rise up at the resurrection and judge the leaders of Israel who rejected Jesus of Nazareth. This little aside shows that distorted history has been used to prevent people knowing what's in store for them if they believe and worship the true God (and what's in store for them if they do not). There is a good reason why the authorities do not want people to know the origin of the word (name) "Africa" because its great queen (Hatshepsut-Sheba) rejected her pagan gods and turned (repented) to the God of Solomon and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob of Israel.
In summary, the oldest sources for the name "Africa" come from the Bible (Ophir) and Egyptian records (Kh-Afre or Afre-Kh). Attempts below by the linguistic community to derive the origins of the name "Africa" get swamped by borrowed traditions from the Biblical source and by loan-words that migrated through various languages after the Tower of Babel (circa 2200 BC).
It is now virtually impossible to tell which language borrowed from another or which language 'lent' a word to another via trade, assimilation, culture-swapping etc. However, certain things dominate no matter what. The ancient Egyptians had difficulty distinguishing between 'b' and 'p' in speech. Today, an Egyptian still says "Egypt is very boor". Generation after generation of invaders, while they may have changed much of the face of Egypt they could not prevent their children imitating the speech of the indigenous culture.
The name Africa came into Western use through the Romans, who used the name Africa terra � "land of the Afri" (plural, or "Afer" singular) � for the northern part of the continent, as the province of Africa with its capital Carthage, corresponding to modern-day Tunisia.
The origin of Afer may either come from:
- the Phoenician `afar, dust;
- the Afri, a tribe � possibly Berber � who dwelt in North Africa in the Carthage area;
- the Greek word aphrike, meaning without cold (see also List of traditional Greek place names);
- or the Latin word aprica, meaning sunny.
The historian Leo Africanus (1495-1554) attributed the origin to the Greek word phrike (?????, meaning 'cold and horror'), combined with the negating prefix a-, so meaning a land free of cold and horror. However, the change of sound from pH to f in Greek is datable to about the first century, so this cannot really be the origin of the name.
Egypt was considered part of Asia by the ancients, and first assigned to Africa by the geographer Ptolemy (85 - 165 AD), who accepted Alexandria as Prime Meridian and made the isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea the boundary between Asia and Africa. As Europeans came to understand the real extent of the continent, the idea of Africa expanded with their knowledge.