Little Ruth was finally asleep, tired out from all the screaming, biting and hitting.
Leah dragged her own aching body onto her mat. However, the much needed sleep eluded her as questions bombarded her tired mind.
How long more can we go on like this?
Had I snatched her from the pyre of Moloch, just to let her be possessed by another demon?
She clenched her fists, numb to the pain as her nails dug into her palm. Fresh angry tears sprung in her eyes at the futility of it all.
Ruth was all Leah had since she ran away from her husband with their baby girl three years ago.
A superstitious man, her husband had blamed his poor business on their new born child. He believed that their luck would turn if only they sacrificed Ruth to Moloch, their Canaanite God of war. Nevermind that human sacrifice had long been outlawed years ago.
Leah's heart chilled when she overheard the conversation between him and the priest as they planned the gruesome sacrificial rite behind her back. That same night, she fled their home with baby Ruth, taking only her jewellery.
Since then, they had been living on what little she managed to get from selling her gold. Even that was dwindling fast. Food was becoming a problem as Ruth grew and weaned from her mother's breasts.
Three days ago, Ruth was so hungry that she ate food from a roadside offering meant for the Gods. Alarmed, Leah had prayed fervently for mercy from the Gods. Apparently, her prayers had fallen on deaf ears.
That night, Ruth started acting strangely like someone possessed. The usually sweet natured girl started screaming and throwing things around. At one point, she went into seizures and spoke in strange languages. Sometimes, there were lull periods when she would just recede in a corner and glare at Leah hostilely.
So far , Leah managed to tie the girl up whenever she was out of control. However, she feared it would get worse as the girl seemed to grow supernaturally stronger each day.
Leah had prayed to every Canaanite god and goddess she could think of, but to no avail. She studied her forearms, so lacerated with knife wounds that there was no smooth spot left. The Gods required sacrifice. But at what cost? When was enough?
She trawled her memory for any deity she had left out.
Then she realised, there was indeed one more God she had not sought help from.
The God of Abraham,Isaac and Israel.
The Almighty One, who had led the Israelites out of Egypt and victoriously into Canaan.
The same God who had reduced the powerful King Nebuchadnezzar to a beast restored him after seven years.
And the same One who had delivered Daniel from King Darius's lions.
Why would a foreign God heed her prayers when her own Canaanite Gods had foresaken her?
Nevertheless, she had nothing to lose from asking. For what could you lose when you already had nothing?
She got on her knees.
"God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, if you are truly the Living God, if You are as loving and merciful as what the prophets had said, please hear my plea. Please save Ruth. I have nothing left to offer you, please have mercy on us."
With that, she fell asleep.