Canaan begot Sidon his firstborn, and Heth; the Jebusite, the Amorite, and the Girgashite; the Hivite, the Arkite, and the Sinite; the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite. Afterward the families of the Canaanites were dispersed. And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon as you go toward Gerar, as far as Gaza; then as you go toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. These were the sons of Ham, according to their families, according to their languages, in their lands and in their nations. Gen 10:15-20
The descendants of Canaan are singled out in this week’s parashah by the paragraph divisions among all the descendants of the sons of Noah.
Sidon, Canaan’s firstborn, settled the city of Sidon on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and became the people known to history as the Phoenicians. The Phoenicians improved the science of navigation, settled trading outposts in almost every part of the world, and spread abroad. The Phoenicians did not invent writing as is attributed to them in library books, but they did take the common pictographic alphabet of ancient Hebrew the common language, and simplify it so it was better suited as a phonetic alphabet and not primarily pictographic. In fact, any science begun by others, the Phoenicians refined and improved, so that in time, the goods, sailors, architects, and technicians of the Phoenicians were the most sought after in the ancient world. This is one way Canaan served Shem and Japheth.
Heth was the ancestor of the Hittites, a powerful nation for a time. The Hittites settled Asia Minor. Most archaeologists believe the chariot was invented (or adapted) by the Hittites. The Assyrians put an end to the Hittite empire.
The Jebusites through Hamathites were all Canaanite nations which settled in the Holy Land.
The Phoenicians, Hittites, and Canaanites all shared a common religion, not centered in the worship of YHVH Elohiym, as we will see in the next parashah.
These five short verses delineate the descendants of Canaan, which Israel was later commanded to obliterate from their land.