Stand clear of the elephant

I think there's a moral in here ... somewhere.    Josephus on the death of Eleazar Avaran, one of the Maccabees:

"But when his brother Eleazar, whom they called Auran, saw the tallest of all the elephants armed with royal breastplates, and supposed that the king was upon him, he attacked him with great quickness and bravery. He also slew many of those that were about the elephant, and scattered the rest, and then went under the belly of the elephant, and smote him, and slew him; so the elephant fell upon Eleazar, and by his weight crushed him to death. And thus did this man come to his end, when he had first courageously destroyed many of his enemies."

— Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 12.9.4

So, it isn't funny (I keep telling myself that.  Well ... maybe it's a little bit funny.).   Eleazar died a heroic death and it was seen as such at the time.  I take away something sort of like "pride goeth before a fall", but not in a negative sense.    Eleazar's victory was genuine — he was doing exactly what he should have been doing; it's just that the very fact of that victory opened him up to defeat.     

Have you noticed how often this is the case?    Just when you are on top of the world, that's when trouble comes along.  And not just that:  the trouble would have passed you by and left you alone if you hadn't let your guard down because of your success.   From now on, I'll say to myself in that situation:  "make sure to stand clear of the elephant".

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"A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion." — Proverbs 18:2