后来秦国发生饥荒，晋惠公也没有伸出援手帮助秦国，秦穆公为此怀恨在心。后来，秦穆公发兵攻打晋国，很快就打到晋国的一个城镇。为了抵抗强大的秦军，晋惠 公亲自领兵反抗。他下令拉战车的马，一定要用郑国的骏马。有位大臣看到，连忙对晋惠公说：“郑国的马看起来虽然很强壮，但是实际上却很虚弱，打起仗来一紧 张就会不听指挥。到那时，进退不得，大王还是不要做此决定吧！”但是晋惠公一点都不愿意听大臣的劝告，果然，没多久晋惠公的马车就开始不听指挥，晋惠公一 下就被秦军捉住，当了俘虏，晋国因此而大败。
Outwardly strong but inwardly weak
Today, we have a very interesting phrase: Wai Qiang Zhong Gan. Literally, it means “outwardly strong but inwardly weak”. Usually, it is used to describe those who are strong in appearance but weak in reality.
If you heard the story I told you last week, Yu Jia Zhi Zui, He Huan Wu Ci, you may remember it is about Duke Hui of the State of Jin during the Spring and Autumn Period about 2600 years ago. The story behind today’s idiom is also about him. And here’s how the idiom originated:
Yi Wu became Duke Hui of Jin with the help of the states Qin and Qi. While living in exile, he had promised Duke Mu of the State of Qin that he would give Qin five cities as a token of his gratitude to him. But after he returned to Jin and became duke, he didn’t do as he had promised. And when a famine hit Qin, Duke Hui refused to help it. So Duke Mu was very angry. In 645 BC, he led troops to attack Jin, and soon reached the place of Han of Jin. Duke Hui himself went to Han with his army to resist. Before the battle began, he told his soldiers to prepare a chariot harnessed with a horse bought from the state of Zheng. An official named Qing Zheng said to Duke Hui: “In ancient time, people used home-produced horses to pull carts because they are accustomed to the climate. So after training, soldiers can drive them easily. But now you use a horse from Zheng. Such horses look very strong, but actually, they are only outwardly strong but inwardly weak. When they feel anxious in war, they will lose their temper, and get out of control. If that happens, you won’t be able to fight on. You’ll regret.”
However, Duke Hui didn’t take Qing Zheng’s advice. He insisted on using the horse bought from Zheng. Just as Qing Zheng had foreseen, his horse was frightened out of its wits in the war, and the soldiers couldn’t control it. Duke Hui had no way but cried for help. Unfortunately, no other soldiers came. He was caught by Qin soldiers. The Jin army suffered a crushing defeat.
From how Qing Zheng described the Zheng horses, people get the idiom Wai Qiang Zhong Gan – “strong in appearance but weak in reality”. Sometimes it is used to describe those who are hollow inside in any sense, for instance, someone who impresses others as if he was rich and successful, but is actually in financial trouble.