CUMANUS VENTIDIUS°, Roman procurator of Judea from 48 to 52 C.E. He held office at a time of increasing unrest. The *Zealots, who were already active in the time of his predecessor *Tiberius Julius Alexander, extended their activities during his period of office. The tension which accompanied his appointment is to some extent attributable to his own corruption and readiness to accept bribes. This came to light in the quarrel between the Jews and Samaritans, when he failed to punish the latter for the murder of a pilgrim from Galilee to Jerusalem. In revenge the Jews, led by the Zealots *Eleazar son of Dinai and *Alexander, set fire to Samaritan villages and killed the inhabitants. According to the report in Josephus' Antiquities, Cumanus was in the pay of the Samaritans; in his Jewish Wars Josephus gives a different account. The disturbance was reported to Quadratus, the governor of Syria, by the Samaritans. After hearing both sides Quadratus executed a number of Jews and Samaritans and ordered Cumanus and the tribune Celer to report to the emperor in Rome. Cumanus was banished, after the emperor had been influenced by both his wife Agrippina and the young king *Agrippa II, and the tribune was sent to the Jews in Jerusalem for capital punishment. Two other riots were caused, one by the indecent behavior of a Roman soldier at the Passover festival and the other when a Roman soldier set fire to a Torah scroll in the course of a punitive mission to the villages near Beth-Horon, where Jews had robbed an imperial officer. Cumanus' period of office was marked by a deteriorating relationship between Jews and Romans.
Jos., Ant., 20:103ff., 118ff.; Jos., Wars, 2:223ff., 232ff.; Tacitus, Annals, 12:54.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.