A yellow nonmetallic element occurring free or combined with other elements in sulfide and sulfate compounds. Its melting point is unusually low, 113° C. (235° F.). It readily burns with a pale blue flame, at the same time forming sulfur dioxide, which has a pungent odor.
The first historical reference to sulfur tells how destruction rained down on the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in the form of fire and sulfur. (Ge 19:24; Lu 17:29) On the basis of geologic evidence, some suggest that this catastrophic execution from Jehovah was possibly in the form of a volcanic eruption in the southern region of the Dead Sea, accounting for the prevalence of sulfur in that area today.
It is believed that a high-temperature incinerator or crematory for the ancient city of Jerusalem was developed by adding sulfur to the constantly burning fires in the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) just outside the walls.
Ever since the fiery judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah in 1919 B.C.E., the highly flammable nature of sulfur has been referred to in the Scriptures. (Isa 30:33; 34:9; Re 9:17, 18) It is a symbol of total desolation. (De 29:22, 23; Job 18:15) “Fire and sulphur” are associated together when utter destruction is depicted. (Ps 11:6; Eze 38:22; Re 14:9-11) We are told that the Devil will be “hurled into the lake of fire and sulphur,” a fitting description of complete annihilation, “the second death.”—Re 19:20; 20:10; 21:8.