Sulfur is designated in Heb. as גָּפרַית, gophrith (A. V. "brimstone"), and in Greek θεῖον (Plutarch, Sympos. 4:2, 3). In the Scriptures it is very frequently associated with "fire." "The Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire out of heaven" (Ge 19:24; see also Ps 11:6; Eze 38:22). In Job 18:15 and Isa 30:33 "brimstone" occurs alone, but no doubt in a sense similar to that in the foregoing passages, viz, as a synonymous expression with lightning, as has been observed by Le Clerc (Dissert. de Sodomae Subversione, Commentario Pentateuch Adecta, § 4), Michaelis, Rosenmüller, and others. There is a peculiar sulfurous odor which is occasionally perceived to accompany a thunder-storm. The ancients draw particular attention to it, see Pliny (Hist. Nat. 35, 15), "Fulmina ac fulgura quoque sulfuris odorem habent;" Seneca (Q. Nat. 2, 53), and Persius (Sat. 2, 24, 25). Hence the expression in the sacred writings "fire and brimstone" to denote a storm of thunder and lightning, The stream of brimstone in Isa 30:33 is, no doubt, as Lee (Heb. Lex. p. 123) has well expressed it, "a rushing stream of lightning." From De 29:23," The whole land thereof is brimstone… like the overthrow of Sodom," it would appear that native sulfur itself is alluded to (see also Isa 34:9). Sulfur is found at the present time in different parts of Palestine, but in the greatest abundance on the borders of the Dead Sea. "We picked up pieces," says Dr. Robinson (Bibl. Res. 2, 221), "as large as a walnut near the northern shore, and the Arabs said it was found in the sea near Ain el Feshkhah in lumps as large as a man's fist: they find it in sufficient quantities to make from it their own gunpowder." See Irby and Mangles (Travels, p. 453), Burckhardt (Travels, p. 394), who observes that the Arabs use sulfur in diseases of their camels, and Shaw (Travels, 2, 159). There are hot sulfurous springs on the eastern coast of the ancient Callirrhoe (Irby and Mangles, Travels, p. 467; Robinson, Bibl. Res. 2, 222). The pieces of sulfur, varying in size from a nutmeg to a small hen's egg, which travelers pick up on the shore of the Dead Sea, have, in all probability, been disintegrated from the adjacent limestone or volcanic rocks and washed up on the shores. Sulfur was much used by the Greeks and Romans in their religious purifications (Juv. 2, 157; Pliny, 35:15); hence the Greek word eslov, lit. "the divine thing," was employed to express this substance. Sulfur is found nearly pure in different parts of the world, and generally in volcanic districts. It exists in combination with metals and in various sulfates: it is very combustible, and is used in the manufacture of gunpowder, matches, etc. Pliny (loc. cit.) says one kind of sulfur was employed "ad ellychnia conficienda." SEE BRIMSTONE.

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