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The Masoretes (Hebrew ba'alei hamasorah) were groups of scribes and Bible scholars working between the 7th and 11th centuries, based primarily in Israel in the cities of Tiberias and Jerusalem, as well as in Babylonia. Each group compiled a system of pronunciation and grammatical guides in the form of diacritical notes on the external form of the Biblical text in an attempt to fix the pronunciation, paragraph and verse divisions and cantillation of the Jewish Bible, the Tanakh, for the worldwide Jewish community.

The Masoretes devised the vowel notation system for Hebrew that is still widely used as well as the trope symbols used for cantillation.

The Masoretic Text is the Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible (Tanakh). It defines not just the books of the Jewish canon, but also the precise letter-text of the biblical books in Judaism, as well as their vocalization and accentuation for both public reading and private study. The Masoretic Text is also widely used as the basis for translations of the Old Testament in Protestant Bibles, and in recent decades also for Catholic Bibles.

Though the consonants differ little from the text generally accepted in the early second century, it has numerous differences of both little and great significance when compared to (extant 4th century) versions of the Septuagint, originally a Greek translation (around 300 BCE) of the Hebrew Scriptures in popular use in Palestine during the common era and often quoted in the New Testament.

The Hebrew word mesorah refers to the transmission of a Tradition. In a very broad sense it can refer to the entire chain of Jewish tradition (see Oral Law). But in reference to the Masoretic Text the word mesorah has a very specific meaning: the diacritic markings of the text of the Hebrew Bible and concise marginal notes in manuscripts (and later printings) of the Hebrew Bible which note textual details, usually about the precise spelling of words.