By: Richard Gottheil
Roman procurator in Judea (48-52). According to Tacitus ("Annales," xii. 54), he divided the procuratorship with Felix; the latter being at the head of Samaria, the former of Galilee. Such a division is unknown to Josephus, and, though accepted by Mommsen ("Gesch." v. 525), is rightly discarded by Schürer ("Gesch." i. 477). Grätz, who follows the statement of Tacitus, is forced to amend his text; holding that events show that Samaria belonged to Cumanus, and Galilee to Felix ("Monatsschrift," xxvi. 404).
The procuratorship of Cumanus lay in the stormy period preceding the final insurrection in Judea. He himself had to put down three uprisings, the last one causing his own downfall. The first of these happened in the Temple court at the Passover feast, when one of the Roman soldiers—who were always present on such occasions to keep order in the multitude—shocked the Jews by his indecent behavior. The tumult thus occasioned was suppressed by the soldiers, and a large number of those assembled (by Josephus said to have exceeded 3,000) were crushed to death. The second uprising also was brought about by a Roman soldier. Jewish robbers had attacked an imperial officer named Stephanus near Beth-horon ("B. J." ii. 12, § 2). The soldiers sent by Cumanus to restore order plundered the surrounding villages, and one of them tore up a scroll of the Law. At this the Jews became much excited, sent a large deputation to the procurator at Cæsarea, and were appeased only when the soldier was condemned to death.
Jealousy between the Samaritans and the Judeans was the cause of the third trouble. A Galilean, on his way to the Temple at Jerusalem, had been murdered at Gema ("B. J." ii. 12, § 3) or Ginea ("Ant." xx. 6, § 1; compare Boettger, "Top.-Hist. Lexikon zu Josephus," p. 129). Cumanus hesitated to inflict punishment upon the Samaritans: it is even said that he was in their pay. The Judeans, headed by the zealots Eleazar, son of Dineus, and Alexander, revenged themselves upon the Samaritans, despite the attempt of the leaders in Jerusalem to hold them back. Cumanus sent out the Sebaste troop from Cæsarea; but in the mean time both Samaritans and Judeans had made presentments to Ummidius Quadratus, the governor of Syria, who at once put to death in Cæsarea all those who had been captured by Cumanus, and in Lydda eighteen of the Judeans who had been involved in the disturbance. The high priests Jonathan and Ananias, the latter's son Anan, the Samaritan leaders, Cumanus and the tribune Celer, and others, were ordered to Rome to appear before the emperor. Claudius condemned three of the leading Samaritans to death, banished Cumanus, and sent Celer to Jerusalem to be beheaded. This judgment, according to Josephus ("Ant." xx. 6, § 3), was due to the influence of Agrippa II. with Agrippina, the emperor's wife.
According to Tacitus (l.c.), however, the trouble between the Samaritans and the Judeans had been fomented by the jealousy of the two procurators, and it was Quadratus himself who sat in judgment. Antonius Felix was exonerated, as he was the brother of the emperor's favorite, Pallas, and brother-in-law of King Agrippa.
- Josephus, Ant. xx. ch. v. and vi.;
- idem, B. J. ii. ch. 12;
- Grätz and Mommsen, as above;
- Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 568-570.