Rabba says: The dispute between Rabbi Meir and the Rabbis is only with regard to statues that are erected in villages. But with regard to those that are erected in cities, all agree that they are permitted, i.e., that it is permitted to derive benefit from them. What is the reason? It is because they were fashioned for ornamental purposes and not for worship. The Gemara asks: But with regard to those erected in villages, is there anyone who says that they are fashioned for ornamental purposes? Those in villages were certainly fashioned for idol worship. How, then, can the Rabbis maintain that such statues are permitted?
§ The mishna teaches: And the Rabbis say: The only statues that are forbidden are: Any statue that has in its hand a staff, or a bird, or an orb, as these are indications that this statue is designated for idolatry. The Gemara explains that each of these items symbolizes the statue’s supposed divinity, indicating its dominion over the world: A staff symbolizes dominion as the idol rules itself under the entire world, i.e., it rules the entire world, like one rules over an animal with a staff. A bird symbolizes dominion as the idol grasps itself under the entire world, i.e., it grasps the entire world, as one grasps a bird in his hand. An orb symbolizes dominion as the idol grasps itself under the entire world, i.e., it grasps the entire world, as one grasps a ball in his hand.