趁火打劫

 
chèn huǒ dǎ jié (chen huo da jie)
loot a burning house (take advantage of someone's misfortune to do him harm)

When a country is beset by internal conflicts, when disease and famine ravage the population, when corruption and crime are rampant, then it will be unable to deal with an outside threat. This is the time to attack.

Originally this saying meant, "When someone's house is on fire, take advantage of the chaos and steal his valuables."

Warring States Era China

Qi and Han were allies when Chang Yi attacked Han with the combined forces of Qin and Wei. Han asked Qi for assistance. The king of Qi said:" Han is our ally and since Qin has attacked her we must go to her rescue." But his minister Tian-chen Su disagreed saying: "Your majesty's planning is faulty. You should merely agree to assist Han but take no action there. However, in the kingdom of Yan, their king has recently resigned the throne to his despised prime minister. This has enraged both the noble houses and the common people causing turmoil at court. Now if Qin attacks Han, Chu and Chao will surely come to her aid and this will be as good as heaven bestowing Yan upon us."

The king approved and promised the Han envoy assistance before sending him back to Han believing he had Qi's backing. When Qin attacked Han, Chu and Chao intervened as expected. While all the major kingdoms were thus engaged in the battle for Han, Qi quickly and quietly attacked Yan. Within thirty days Yan was captured.

Battle of Gaixia

Before the Battle of Gaixia, both Chu and Han forces were tired from a long lasting siege. After a peace treaty, the tired Chu troops began retreating out of Han territory. Han Xin and Zhang Liang both advised to Liu Bang :"We already control half of the empire. Even within Chu, many governors favour us being the ruler, and will not give Xiang Yu support unless forced to. The Chu troops are currently tired and face serious food stortages. The heavens have decided to end Xiang Yu 's power. If we let Xiang Yu escape, it will be like keeping a tiger alive only to kill its owner later. We must strike now and end this threat." After some thinking, Liu Bang gave the order to attack Xiang Yu, and eventually ended Chu.

Gou Jian

In the year 499 BC, the state of Yue was conquered by the state of Wu. The king of Yue, Gou Jian, became a slave of Wu. He tended the stables for three years before he was allowed to return to his state.

After seven years of rebuilding, Yue gradually became strong again. All the while, Gou Jian never forgot his humiliation.

Gou Jian bribed Wu's minister Bo Pi with eight beautiful women and a thousand ounces of gold. Wu's counsellor Wu Zixu had false charges pressed against him and he committed suicide.

Additionally, Wu was hit by a severe drought. Meanwhile, Wu's king Fu Chai wasted his resources on buildings for his pleasure. Instead of meeting the people's needs, Fu Chai led his army to the north to preside over a meeting of principalities.

Yue took advantage of Wu's natural disaster, popular unrest and weak defence to launch an attack. Fu Chai was given the choice of execution or suicide. He chose suicide.

Meaning: 趁:乘机。趁人家失火时去抢劫。比喻乘人之危谋取私利。

Context: 明·吴承恩《西游记》第十六回:“正是财动人心,他也不救火,他也不叫水,拿着那袈裟,趁哄打劫,拽回云步,经转山洞而去。”

Example: 等警察赶到时,那几个~的流氓早已逃走了。

Synonyms: 浑水摸鱼、顺手牵羊、打家劫舍

Antonyms: 抚危济贫、除暴安良

Grammar: 偏正式;作谓语;含贬义,同乘人之危

敌之害大①,就势取利,刚决柔也②。

【注释】

①敌之害大:害,指敌人所遭遇到的困难,危厄的处境。

②刚决柔也:语出《易经.央》卦。央,卦名。本卦为异卦相叠(乾下兑上)。上卦为兑,兑为泽;下卦为乾,乾为天。兑上乾下,意为有洪水涨上天之象。《央央》的《彖》辞说:“央,决也。刚决柔也。”决,冲决、冲开、去掉的意思。因乾卦为六十四卦的第一卦,乾为天,是大吉大利,吉利的贞卜,所以此卦的本义是力争上游,刚健不屈。所谓刚决柔,就是下乾这个阳刚之卦,在冲决上兑这个阴柔的卦。此计是以“刚”喻己,以“柔”喻敌,言乘敌之危,就势而取胜的意思。

【按语】

敌害在内,则劫其地;敌害在外,则劫其民;内外交害,败劫其国。如:越王乘吴国内蟹稻不遗种而谋攻之,后卒乘吴北会诸侯于黄池之际,国内空虚,因而捣之,大获全胜。

【解析】

这则按语把“趁火打劫”计具体化了。所谓“火”,即对方的困难、麻烦。敌方的困难不外有两个方面,即内忧、外患。天灾人祸,经济凋敝,民不聊生,怨声载道,农民起义,内战连年,都是内患;外敌入侵,战事不断,都是外患。敌方有内忧,就占它的领土;敌方有外患,就争夺他的百姓;敌方内忧外患岌岌可危,赶快兼并它。总之,抓住敌方大难临头的危急之时,赶快进兵,肯定稳操胜券。《战国策.燕二》中的著名寓言“鹬蚌相争,渔翁得利”,也就是“趁火打劫”的形象体现。

【探源】

趁火打劫的原意是:趁人家家里失火,一片混乱,无暇自顾的时候,去抢人家的财物。乘人之危捞一把,这可是不道德的行为。此计用在军事上指的是:当敌方遇到麻烦或危难的时候,就要乘此机会进兵出击,制服对手。《孙子.始计篇》云:“乱而取之,”唐朝杜牧解释孙子此句说,“敌有昏乱,可以乘而取之。”就是讲的这个道理。

  春秋时期,吴国和越国相互争霸,战事频繁。经过长期战争,越国终因不敌吴国,只得俯首称臣。越王勾践被扣在吴国,失去行动自由。勾践立志复国,十年生聚,十年教训,卧薪尝胆。表面上对吴王夫差百般逢迎,终于骗得夫差的信任,被放回越国。因国之后,勾践依然臣服吴国,年年进献财宝,麻痹夫差。而在国内则采取了一系列富国强兵的措施。越国几年后实力大大加强,人丁兴旺,物资丰足,人心稳定。吴王夫差却被胜利冲昏了头脑,被勾践的假象迷惑,不把越国放在眼里。他骄纵凶残,拒绝纳谏,杀了一代名将忠臣伍子胥,重用奸臣,堵塞言路。生活淫靡奢侈,大兴土木,搞得民穷财尽.公元前473年,吴国颗粒难收,民怨沸腾。越正勾践选中吴王夫差北上和中原诸侯在黄池会盟的时机,大举进兵吴国,吴国国内空虚,无力还击,很快就被越国击破灭亡。勾践的胜利,正是乘敌之危,就势取胜的典型战例。

【故事】

努尔哈赤、皇太极都早有入主中原的打算,只是直到去世都未能如愿。顺帝即位时,年龄太小,只有七岁,朝廷的权力都集中在摄政王多尔兖身上。多尔兖对中原早就有攻占之意,想在他手上建立功业,已遂父兄未完成的入主中原的遗愿。他时刻虎视眈眈地注视着明朝的一举一动。

明朝末年,政治腐败,民生凋敝。崇祯皇帝宵衣旰食,倒想振兴大明。可是,他猜疑成性,贤臣良将根本不能在朝廷立足,他一连更换了十几个宰相,又杀了明将袁崇焕,他的周围都是些奸邪小人,明朝崩溃大局已定。

公元1644年,李自成率农民起义军一举攻占京城,建立了大顺王朝。可惜农民进京之后,立足未稳.首领们渐渐腐化堕落。明朝名将吴三硅的爱妾陈圆圆也被起义军将领掳去。吴三桂本是势利小人,惯于见风使舵。他看到明朝大势已去,李自成自立为大顺皇帝,本想投奔李自成巩固自己的实力。而李自成胜利之后,滋长了骄傲情绪,没把吴三桂看在眼里,抄了他的家,扣押了他的父亲,掳了他的爱妾。本来就朝三暮四的吴三桂,“冲冠一怒为红颜”,终于投靠满清,借清兵势力消灭李自成。多尔兖闻讯,欣喜若狂,认为时机成熟,可以实现多年的愿望了。这时中原内部战火纷飞,李自成江山未定,于是多尔兖迅速联合吴三桂的部队,进入山海关,只用了几天的时间,就打到京城,赶走了李自成。多尔兖志得意满登上金銮宝殿,奠定了满清占领中原的基础。

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