When I first joined a Hebrew Israelite congregation one of the first things I remember hearing was this Jesus = hey zeus or hail zeus thing. And for a while I believed that because I just accepted what I was told and didn't really do too much research at the time to really prove it one way or the other.
(I posted this on a Hebrew Israelite site. I am posting it again here for those Israelites on here and also so that no one is under any illusions about the fact that I do not endorse every single teaching or belief that comes from another Israelite just because another Israelite says it. That is the way of religion, not the way of a nation. )
The idea that these words are related is a HUGE misunderstanding that is continued to be taught and mainly because it hasn't been thoroughly challenged. In order to challenge it you'd basically have to be defending the name "Jesus" and most Israelites would never do that because we care too much about the Hebrew original to defend the bad English transliteration. Even when I knew that these words were not truly related I didn't really debate this teaching because... I simply had no desire to spend that much energy on a name I don't even use myself. So saying this now, I'm not trying to defend the name "Jesus" because I still think it should not be used, but for different reason. And I think this teaching may hurt us in the long run as we go up against Christian scholars and theologians who will be able to shut this teaching down which will not only embarrass us for teaching it but also hurt our credibility.
Here's basically what we've been taught.
Jesus sounds like Jezus
In Greek his name was Iesous
sous sounds like zeus
therefore Jesus is related to zeus.
wrong. How? It's wrong because it only works in English. It only works if you ignore the Greek/Latin pronunciations of Zeus.
In Greek, the god's name is Ζεύς Zeús /zdeús/ or /dzeús/ (Modern Greek /'zefs/) in the nominative case and Διός Diós in the genitive case.
Because we are used to modern English it is easy to over look how different letters were originally pronounced. We know that J was originally pronounced as a Y sound. But we have a motive for knowing this. We have no real motive for understanding the original pronunciation of pagan words. Above you see a "d" either before or after the "z". You should be asking yourself where did this "d" come from? Their "z" did not have the same vocal sound as our modern "z". The "d" sound was blended with what is now the "z" but the "d" sound was so pronounced that the modern name turned to words beginning with "D" in Latin and English. "Zeus" is technically correct perhaps because it is according to the original spelling but NOT correct as far as the pronunciation. In Latin the word the Catholics use for "God" is "DEUS". "DEUS". This words looks like "ZEUS" but with a "D" instead of a "Z". Are you seeing where this is going? "Deus" is not even prounced "Deuce" but "De-us". "us" / "s" was a common ending in Greek that was necessary in their grammatical system. It isn't really part of the root word. The root of Ze-us or De-us is De... that's why you have words like de-ity.
In an odd way the letter dz running together can sound like a j, perhaps depending on your local dialect. And so this is why Ze-us or Zeu-s is related to Dio..Dionysus... ju-pater / (zeu-pater)
We would have problems reconciling these transliterations of the different pronunciations to what is taught about zeus. Here's why.
Starting with Yeshua
The Y becomes an I Greek so now you have Ie as the first syllable.
There is no "sh" sound in Greek so the h HAS TO DROP leaving Ies.
The u was represented by "ou" to keep the same sound or else it may be pronounced incorrectly
And the the s was added because it had to be according to the Greek rules of grammar.
THAT is how you go from Yeshua to Iesous. There is absolutely nothing fishy going on here. You can validate everything I just said using multiple sources. This transliteration is horrible mainly because the Greeks did not have the same vocal sounds in their language that was in Hebrew. A lot of people would have been called something slightly different from their name because they would have found their names difficult to pronounce just as we do to French and Spanish names. Both these languages have vocal sounds we do not have in English.
Case in point:
How is "hey soos" spelled in Spanish?
English Word: jesus
Spanish Word: jesús
Now you know how to say jesus in Spanish. :-)
virtually identical but not pronounced the same. How come it isn't heysus or jesoos? Its simply because English speakers use English vocalization rules and Spanish speakers use Spanish vocalization rules. Who said Zeus was the proper vocalization? That's simply the way English speakers vocalize it. Just as a spanish person would not pronounced jesus as "jezus" they also wouldn't pronounce zeus like you may think they would.
The Spanish "z" is pronounced differently in Spain than in Latin America. In Spain, it is pronounced like the "th" in the English word "think." In Latin America, it is pronounced like the letter "s".
In spain "zeus" would have a "th" sound like.... "the-ology" maybe? Let's see if MY word association is on point.
Augustine of Hippo defined the Latin equivalent, theologia, as "reasoning or discussion concerning the Deity", Richard Hooker defined "theology" in English as "the science of things divine". The term can, however, be used of a variety of different disciplines or forms of discourse.
So we have similarity between Zeus, Deus, Juno, and Theos.
Theos (θεός) is the Greek word for "deity, god"; see god (word), names of God
This should be enough proof that Zeus was not originally pronounced "soos" or "zus" or "sus" and cannot then be put into the second syllable of "Jesus". It may not even be a one syllable word based on the time period (as Ζεύς is Modern Greek, not ancient Greek)
Z does not have an S sound originally so the comparison with either or both "S"es in "Jesus" is incorrect. Iesous had a different pronunciation than Zeus.
The bottom line is Zeus was pronounced /'zjuːs/ and not sous or soos and therefore cannot truthfully be linked to sous which was a transliteration, meaning that this was not based on translating one WORD to another but one SOUND to another. Clearly, the sound of both words in the same time period were different. Just because s and z sound similar in modern English has absolutely nothing to do with the linguistic work that was done to transliterate Yeshua into English. There are MANY other words that we use that come from Zeus but Jesus is ironically not one of them.