From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

Brimstone (θεῖον),*[Note: θεῖον is a word of uncertain etymology. It may be the neut. Of θεῖος and mean Divine incense, from the supposed purifying and contagion-preventing virtue it burning sulphur; but Curtius allies it with θύω and fumus. Brimstone is the O.E. ‘brenston’ and Scot. ‘bruntstane.’]or sulphur, is scientifically one of the most important or the non-metallic elements, widely distributed in the mineral world, sometimes pure, and sometimes chemically combined with other elements, forming sulphates and sulphides. It is found in greatest abundance in volcanic regions, and is extensively employed in arts and manufactures. Most of what is used in modern Europe is obtained from Sicily, which finds therein one of the sources of its wealth. The ancients used brimstone for ordinary fumigations and especially for religious purifications.

‘Bring hither fire, and hither Sulphur bring

To purge the palace’

(Homer, Od. xxii. 481f.).

In the Graeco-Roman period the hot sulphur springs of Palestine, on both sides of the Dead Sea, at Tiberias, and in the valley of the Yarmuk, were used medicinally. At the direction of his physicians, Herod the Great ‘went beyond the river Jordan, and bathed himself in the warm baths that were at Callirrhoë, which, besides their other general virtues, were also fit to drink’ (Jos. Ant . xvii. vi. 5).

But the biblical meaning, which is invariably determined by  Genesis 19:24, reflects the ideas of a pre-scientific age, in which the commercial value and domestic utility of brimstone were unsuspected, while, electric currents and their sulphurous fumes were regarded as indications of the wrath of heaven. ‘Fire and brimstone and a burning wind’ ( Psalms 11:6), ‘an overflowing shower, and great hail-stones, fire, and brimstone’ ( Ezekiel 38:22), were not the mere symbols, but the actual media of Divine judgment. The association of lightning and brimstone was wide-spread and persistent, the ozonic odour which accompanies electric discharges being ascribed to the presence of sulphur, ‘Fulmina, fulgura quoque,’ says Pliny, ‘sulfuris odorem habent, ac lux ipsa eorum sulfurea est’ ( Historia Naturalis (Pliny) xxxv. 1. [15]). ‘Sulfur aethereum’ (Lucan, vii. 160) and ‘sulfur sacrum’ (Pers. ii. 25) are synonyms for lightning, and Shakespeare’s ‘stones of sulphur’ are thunderbolts.

The prophetic writer of Revelation naturally retains the old picturesque language with its dread suggestion. His armies of angelic horsemen have breastplates of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone-red and blue and yellow-and their breath is fire and smoke and brimstone ( Revelation 9:17). The worshippers of the Beast and his image are to be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the angels and the Lamb ( Revelation 14:10). And the destruction of the wicked in the end of the age will be a magnified repetition of the overthrow of the cities of the Ghôr-the godless multitude are to be cast into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death ( Revelation 2:18; cf.  Revelation 19:20;  Revelation 20:10).

James Strahan.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

BRIMSTONE , or sulphur, is one of the chemical elements. It is found in volcanic regions both uncombined as a deposit and also as a constituent of the gases (sulphur di-oxide and sulphuretted hydrogen) which are exhaled from the earth or dissolved in the water of hot springs. Such sulphur springs are abundant in the Jordan Valley and on the shores of the Dead Sea. The account of the destruction of the Cities of the Plain (  Genesis 19:24;   Genesis 19:28 ,   Luke 17:29 ) states that the Lord rained upon them ‘brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven,’ and the most generally accepted view is that the disaster was due to an eruption of petroleum, caused by an earthquake. This is more probable on geological grounds than a volcanic eruption. In either case the ‘brimstone’ would not be solid sulphur, but the choking gases mentiooed above, which would accompany the rain of fire (see Driver, in loc .; Tristram, Land of Israel , 353 f.; Dawson, Egypt and Syria , 129f.). This passage suggests the imagery of a number of others in which ‘fire and brimstone’ are agencies of destruction (  Psalms 11:6 ,   Ezekiel 38:22 ,   Revelation 9:17-18;   Revelation 14:10;   Revelation 19:20;   Revelation 20:10;   Revelation 21:8 ). In the last three of these the peculiar feature of the ‘lake’ may be a reminiscence of a volcanic crater filled with molten lava and exhaling sulphurous fumes (cf. the’ great mountain burning with fire,’   Revelation 9:6 ). In   Deuteronomy 29:23 there is a warning that if Israel is disobedient, their whole land will be ‘brimstone and salt,’ like the desolate region round the Dead Sea. In   Isaiah 34:9 a similar threat is uttered against Edom. In   Isaiah 30:33 the ‘breath of the Lord’ kindling Tophet, is like a stream of brimstone.

James Patrick.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [3]

נפרית ,  Genesis 19:24;  Deuteronomy 29:23;  Job 18:15;  Psalms 11:6;  Isaiah 30:33;  Isaiah 34:9;  Ezekiel 38:22 . It is rendered θειον by the Septuagint, and is so called in  Luke 17:29 . Fire and brimstone are represented in many passages of Scripture as the elements by which God punishes the wicked; both in this life, and another. There is in this a manifest allusion to the overthrow of the cities of the plain of the Jordan, by showers of ignited sulphur, to which the physical appearances of the country bear witness to this day. The soil is bituminous, and might be raised by eruptions into the air, and then inflamed and return in horrid showers of overwhelming fire. This awful catastrophe, therefore, stands as a type of the final and eternal punishment of the wicked in another world. In  Job 18:15 , Bildad, describing the calamities which overtake the wicked person, says, "Brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation. This may be a general expression, to designate any great destruction: as that in  Psalms 11:6 , "Upon the wicked he shall rain fire and brimstone." Moses, among other calamities which he sets forth in case of the people's disobedience, threatens them with the fall of brimstone, salt, and burning like the overthrow of Sodom, &c,  Deuteronomy 29:23 . The Prophet Isaiah,  Isaiah 34:9 , writes that the anger of the Lord shall be shown by the streams of the land being turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone. See Dead Sea .

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [4]

1: Θεῖον (Strong'S #2303 — Noun Neuter — theion — thi'-on )

originally denoted "fire from heaven." It is connected with sulphur. Places touched by lightning were called theia, and, as lightning leaves a sulphurous smell, and sulphur was used in pagan purifications, it received the name of theion,  Luke 17:29;  Revelation 9:17,18;  14:10;  19:20;  20:10;  21:8 .

2: Θειώδης (Strong'S #2306 — Adjective — theiodes — thi-o'-dace )

akin to No. 1, signifies "brimstone-like, or consisting of brimstone,"  Revelation 9:17 .

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [5]

Gaphrith , related to gopher wood, and so expressing any inflammable substance, as sulphur, which burns with a suffocating smell. It is a mineral found in quantities on the shores of the Dead Sea. It was the instrument used in destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, the adjoining cities of the plain ( Genesis 19:24), for divine miracle does not supersede the use of God's existing natural agents, but moves in connection with them. An image of every visitation of God's vengeance on the ungodly, especially of the final one ( Deuteronomy 29:23;  Job 18:15;  Psalms 11:6;  Isaiah 34:9;  Ezekiel 38:22;  Revelation 19:20;  Revelation 20:10;  Revelation 21:8).

Holman Bible Dictionary [6]

 Genesis 19:24 Deuteronomy 29:23 Job 18:15 Psalm 11:6 Isaiah 30:33 Isaiah 34:9 Ezekiel 38:22 Luke 17:29 Revelation 14:10 Revelation 19:20 Revelation 20:10 Revelation 21:8

Morrish Bible Dictionary [7]

Bitumen, pitch, or sulphur, which is still found in its crude state in Palestine. In God's judgement it was rained from heaven.  Genesis 19:24;  Psalm 11:6;  Ezekiel 38:22;  Luke 17:29 . It is symbolical of that which will add to the torment and anguish of the wicked.  Revelation 14:10;  Revelation 19:20;  Revelation 20:10;  Revelation 21:8 .

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [8]

A mineral substance, highly inflammable, and burning with a suffocating smell. Sodom and the other cities of the plain were destroyed "by brimstone and fire,"  Genesis 19:24; and this awful catastrophe is often used in Scripture, as an emblem of temporal and eternal judgments of God upon the wicked,  Job 18:15;  Psalm 11:6;  Isaiah 30:33;  34:9;  Revelation 21:8 .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [9]

 Genesis 19:24,25 Isaiah 34:9  Job 18:15 Isaiah 30:33 34:9 Psalm 11:6 Ezekiel 38:22 Revelation 14:10 19:20 20:10

Smith's Bible Dictionary [10]

Brimstone. Brimstone, or Sulphur, is found in considerable quantities on the shores of the Dead Sea.  Genesis 19:24. It is a well-known simple mineral substance, crystalline, easily melted, very inflammable, and, when burning, emits a peculiar suffocating odor. It is found in great abundance near volcanoes. The soil around Sodom and Gomorrah abounded in sulphur and bitumen.

King James Dictionary [11]

BRIM'STONE, n. Sulphur a hard, brittle, inflammable substance, of a lemon yellow color, which has no smell, unless heated, and which becomes negatively electric by heat and friction. It is found, in great quantities, and sometimes pure, in the neighborhood of volcanoes. It is an ingredient in a variety of minerals and ores. The sulphur of commerce is procured from its natural beds, or artificially extracted from pyrites.

Webster's Dictionary [12]

(1): (a.) Made of, or pertaining to, brimstone; as, brimstone matches.

(2): (v. t.) Sulphur; See Sulphur.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [13]

( גָּפְרַית , Gophrith'; Θεῖον , Sulphur). The Hebrew word is connected with גֹּפֶר , Go'Pher, rendered "gopher-wood" in  Genesis 6:14, and probably signified in the first instance the gum or resin that exuded from that tree; hence it was transferred to all inflammable substances, and especially to sulphur a well-known simple mineral substance, crystalline and fusible, but without a metallic basis. It is exceedingly inflammable, and when burning emits a peculiar suffocating smell. It is found in great abundance near volcanoes and mineral wells, more particularly near hot wells, and it is spread nearly over the whole earth. In  Genesis 19:24-25, we are told that the cities of the plain were destroyed by a rain (or storm) of fire and brimstone. There is nothing incredible in this, even if we suppose natural agencies only were employed in it. The soil of that region abounded with sulphur and bitumen; and the kindling of such a mass of combustible materials through volcanic action or by lightning from heaven, would cause a conflagration sufficient not only to engulf the cities, but also to destroy the surface of the plain, so that "the smoke of the country would go up as the smoke of a furnace," and the sea, rushing in, would convert the plain into a tract of waters. (See Sodom). Small lumps of sulphur are still found in many places on the shores of the Dead Sea. (See Sulphur). The word brimstone is often figuratively used in the Scriptures (apparently with more or less reference to the above signal example) to denote punishment and destruction ( Job 18:15;  Isaiah 30:33;  Isaiah 34:9;  Deuteronomy 29:23;  Psalms 11:6;  Ezekiel 38:22). Whether the word is used literally or not in the passages which describe the future and everlasting punishment of the wicked, we may be sure that it expresses all which the human mind can conceive of excruciating torment ( Revelation 14:10;  Revelation 19:20;  Revelation 20:10;  Revelation 21:8). (See Hell).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [14]

brim´stōn , brim´stun ( גּפרית , gophrı̄th  ; τὸ θεῖον , tó theı́on ): The word translated "brimstone" probably referred originally to the pitch of trees, like the cypress. By analogy it has been rendered "brimstone" because of the inflammability of both substances. Sulphur existed in Palestine in early times and was known by most of the ancient nations as a combustible substance. In the vicinity of the Dead Sea, even at the present time, deposits of sulphur are being formed. Blanckenhorn ( ZDPV , 1896) believes that this formation is due to the action of bituminous matter upon gypsum, as these two substances are found associated with each other in this district. Travelers going from Jericho to the Dead Sea may pick up lumps of sulphur, which are usually encrusted with crystals of gypsum.  Deuteronomy 29:23 well describes the present aspect of this region. That the inhabitants of the land had experienced the terrors of burning sulphur is very probable. Once one of these deposits took fire it would melt and run in burning streams down the ravines spreading everywhere suffocating fumes such as come from the ordinary brimstone match. No more realistic figure could be chosen to depict terrible suffering and destruction. It is not at all unlikely that during some of the disastrous earthquakes which took place in this part of the world, the hot lava sent forth ignited not only the sulphur, but also the bitumen, and added to the horrors of the earthquake the destruction caused by burning pitch and brimstone.

The figurative use of the word brimstone to denote punishment and destruction is illustrated by such passages as   Deuteronomy 29:23;  Job 18:15;  Psalm 11:6;  Isaiah 30:33;  Ezekiel 38:22;  Luke 17:29;  Revelation 9:17 .