Why does it say Sheshan had no sons in 1 Chronicles 2:34 but in verse 31 it says Ahlai is his son? Is Ahlai a daughter? Is this Ahlai the same as in 1 Chronicles 11:41?
I think you have discovered a passage that illustrates what I have insisted on but never actually had an example of before: that the Hebrew word “son,” since it has to do with representative, heir, and one who stands in the place of the father, in this case is used of a daughter rather than a male child. (Don’t know what I mean by this? Please see my article on “Sonship” here: https://precepts.wordpress.com/2007/09/21/sonship/ ) For verse 34 tells us clearly,
34. Now Sheshan had no sons, only daughters.
Yet verse 31 says,
31. The son of Appaim was Ishi, the son of Ishi was Sheshan, and Sheshan’s son was Ahlai.
So if Sheshan had no son, and yet Ahlai is listed as his “son,” that means Ahlai, his daughter, is counted as his son.
I Chronicles 11:41 is the only other occurrence of the name “Ahlai,” and I think it is talking about the same woman.
41. Uriah the Hittite, Zabad the son of Ahlai.
This is in the middle of the list of David’s mighty men, and it mentions this Zabad the son of Ahlai. To understand this, we need to remember that there is no word for “grandson” in the Bible, and since a “son” is a representative or one who can stand in for the father, a grandson, great-grandson, etc. can do that just like one’s own child.
Now we learn who Zabad was from I Chronicles, if we continue the passage from verse 34.
34. Now Sheshan had no sons, only daughters. And Sheshan had an Egyptian servant whose name was Jarha. 35. Sheshan gave his daughter to Jarha his servant as wife, and she bore him Attai.
So Sheshan’s “son” daughter, Ahlai, married Jarha and bore Attai. Verse 36 tells us where Zabad came in.
36. Attai begot Nathan, and Nathan begot Zabad;
So Zabad was actually the great-grandson of Ahlai, but he is identified with her in I Chronicles 11:41, perhaps because she was his most famous ancestor.