Let’s start with a self-evident truth: Powerful men are possessive of their power. That’s why Supreme Court justices step down so reluctantly and presidents have to be forced by the Constitution to retire. That’s why Herod the Great had his sons put to death, being terrified that one of them would take over his throne.
The grandfather of Cyrus the Great had no sons to worry about, but he had a dream that his baby grandson would replace him. That’s why he ordered baby Cyrus to be put to death. What a contemptible thing for a grandpa to do! In an ironic twist of fate, however, little Cyrus was spared and adopted by a peasant cowherd and his wife. When Grandpa found out, he was furious. And the old king really knew how to hold a grudge. He killed the son of the man who was supposed to kill little Cyrus, and fed pieces of the body to the unwitting father at a banquet.
The Greek expression for “hold a grudge” was literally “hold in the bile.” Later this was shortened to just “hold in,” (similar to our own expression, “have it in” for someone). In a couple of interesting places the New Testament uses this same Greek word for “hold in” (enecho – en EH ko).
In Mark 6:19 Herodius “nursed a grudge” against John the Baptist, because he had condemned her unlawful marriage to her uncle. John was a threat to her position, and she “had it in” for him. In a rather similar fashion, when Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees they began to “oppose him fiercely” (Luke 11:53). In various translations they “were furious” (NLT) and “were very hostile” (NASB and NRSV). More simply put, they saw Jesus as a threat to their power and they “had it in” for Him.