公元前361年，秦国的新国君秦孝公即位。他下决心要使秦国强大起来，于是下了一道命令，说谁能使秦国强大，就封谁做官。 商鞅(yang)原来是卫国人，听到了这个消息，就来到秦国。商鞅和秦孝公谈论国家大事，一连谈了几天几夜。秦孝公非常赞同商鞅的主张。公元前356年，秦孝公任用商鞅，开始改革旧的制度。 商鞅起草了一个改革的法令，但又怕老百姓不相信他，就叫人在都城的南门了一根很高的木头，并说，谁能把木头搬到北门，就赏谁十金。很多人都以为这是开玩笑。商鞅知道老百姓不相信他，就把赏金提高到五十金。人们在木头旁议论纷纷，终于有一个人把木头扛起来，一直扛到了北门。结果商鞅真的赏给那人五十金。这件事在秦国引起了轰动，商鞅说到做到，在老百姓中有了威信，于是商鞅就把新法令公布了出去。 商鞅变法共进行了两次，变法的主要内容有：a废除了井田制，打破过去土地上的界限，国家承认土地私有，允许自由买卖。b生產糧食布帛多的人可以免除徭役。在战争中军功越大，授予的爵位越高，赐给的土地和房子也越多。旧贵族没有军功，就不能享受特权。c在全国设置31个县，由国君直接派官吏管理。 新法令刚刚开始推行，就遭到了旧贵族的强烈反对。太子的两个老师鼓动太子反对变法，商鞅就处罚了那两位老师，一个割掉了鼻子，一个在脸上刺了字。这样，大家就不敢反对了。 经过商鞅变法，秦国的经济得到了发展，军队战斗力得到了加强，成为战国后期最强大的国家。
Shang Yang's Reform
In 361 BC, Duke Xiao came to the throne of the State of Qin. Determined to make Qin a powerful state he set about looking for men of talent to help him do so. Shang Yang, of the State of Wei, offered his services to Duke Xiao, and in 356 BC was given the task of reforming Qin's institutions. Shang Yang thought up a novel way to win the confidence of the population, so that the people of Qin would back his reform. He had a log placed near the south gate of the capital of Qin, and announced that he would give 10 pieces of gold to anyone who carried the log to the north gate. When nobody took up the offer, Shang Yang raised the reward to 50 pieces of gold. Finally a man shouldered the log, and carried it to the north gate. Shang Yang was as good as his word, and handed over 50 gold pieces to the man. Sure of the confidence of the people of Qin, Shang Yang set about a suite of reforms, which included private ownership of, and transactions in, land, exemption from corvee labor for producers of large amounts of crops or cloth, lavish rewards for people of military distinction, and the division of the state into 31 counties which were supervised by officials directly appointed by the duke. Members of the aristocracy of Qin felt that their position was threatened by the reform, and tried to stir up opposition to it. This anti-reform party was led by two tutors of the heir-apparent. Shang Yang moved swiftly. He had the pair punished by having the nose of one of them cut off and the face of the other tattooed. Shang Yang's reform had a great deal to do with Qin's emergence as the most powerful state in the late Warring States Period.